CRADLE OF FILTH – Dani Filth on Victorian Ghosts, Nudity, & Heavy Metal in CRYPTORIANA  

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News on December 30, 2017 by coletteclaire

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Formed in England in 1991,  have solidified their place as one of the most popular extreme metal bands in history. The band generated an immediate underground buzz with their early demos and their debut album The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh in 1994, and subsequently released other seminal albums like Dusk…And Her Embrace in 1996, and Cruelty And The Beast in 1998. More recently, albums like Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder in 2008 and Hammer Of The Witches in 2015 show that  have no intention of going gently into that goodnight anytime soon. The band is currently releasing its 12th studio album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay in September 2017it’s second on Nuclear Blast Records. The band’s combination of detailed, literary lyrics, intensely dark/gothic imagery, and intricate heavy riffage has certainly not ceased on this effort.

The band’s line up currently consists of Dani Filth on vocals, the only original member, Martin Skaroupka on drums, since 2006, Daniel Firth on bass, since 2012, Lindsay Schoolcraft on keyboards and female vocals, since 2013, Richard Shaw on guitar since 2014, and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda also on guitar since 2014. Cryptoriana was conceived during the summer of 2016 when  met in Smerda and Škaroupka’s native Czech Republic. Then, the band went on to meticulously piece together the album with long-time producer Scott Atkin back in the UK during the first half of 2017. Filth, in his typical articulate, British, style gives us some insight on the making of the record: “It was a bit of a team building exercise. We obviously still went sightseeing in the Czech Republic, and, you know, it felt like being on holiday in Europe, which was great for the band itself. But obviously the most important thing was that we collated all our ideas together, because everybody had been working so proficiently on tracks or parts individually, we thought we could fill the puzzle. And we actually came away from that with 80 to 85 percent of the album written, so after that it was quite easy to finish the record. Even in Canada or in England, Scotland, or the Czech Republic, and then in the studio, there was further mutation. Once you get a producer involved sort the demos you can be Close to done and to the actual mix.”

Filth has said that this album is building on the success of 2015’s Hammer Of The Witches. Filth explains the progression between that album and this one: “A couple of the tracks were actually written for Hammer of the Witches. They just didn’t work out, as they weren’t developed enough at the time, and so we decided to hold them back. We didn’t even know if they’re going on this album or not, but we developed them further. They sit better with this sound than the previous record. There’s things about this record that are very different. I think for the first time we don’t have an orchestral intro or an orchestral outro or orchestral middle section and instead those orchestral parts are incorporated into the bulk of the song. The songs are longer and there’s acoustic guitars on the record and there’s more guitar solos, but they’re not just there for the sake of it, they’re really well-thought-out. I’d say it was more interaction with the guitars their are in a sort of twin guitar new wave of British Heavy metal vein. Yeah we’ve got choir on here with the emphasis on high soprano so it’s very ghostly. It fits perfectly with this sort of Victorian Gothic horror story vibe. There are some really heavy tracks on the album like Death and the Maiden, which finishes the main bulk of the album on the special edition. On the special edition, there’s also a cover version of Annihilator’s Alison Hell, which we’ve been wanting to do for ages and reason we’ve done it now is A. because it fits very well with the theme of the music and the album. And also because we bumped into Jeff Waters recently, I say recently as in the last couple of years, and mentioned that we were going to be undertaking a cover of that track and he gave his full endorsement. He’s indeed heard it since it’s been finished and he loves it so that’s the biggest accolade you can get when undertaking a cover.”

Another comparison that might be made about Cryptoriana is its resemblance to some of Cradle of Filth’s previous work like 2000’s Midian or 2004’s Nymphetamine. Filth elaborates on this: “By nature the music, the twin guitar work and the fact that the stuff is very ornate and fast with a bit of Gothic melodrama thrown into parts of the album, especially on Achingly Beautiful and The Night At Catafalque Manor, which is one of the bonus tracks, I think that just immediately links it back to the past albums like Cruelty and the Beast or Midian or indeed Nymphetamine. I think just by default alone.  Oh and Vengeful Spirit features the voice of Liv Christine, who was featured on one of our older tracks Nymphetamine [as a guest vocalist]. But it’s a very different track. Christine characterizes the protagonist of the song, a woman betrayed who commits suicide and then returns from purgatory to torment the person who has wronged her in life, which is me basically. So we sort of feature as a duet. So anybody expecting Nympetamine part two will be slightly disappointed because you know there is a slightly faster song, but it’s unmistakably her and it’s very catchy. Also, it is the same line-up as the previous album, but, you could say, the newest members are fans of the band. When they joined the band they were fans and since then we’ve been rehearsing and playing a lot and you know doing a diverse amount of material from our entire back catalog, so they’re fully integrated into the Cradle sound. The way the songs integrate with each other, the speed of them , the intricacy of them, the atmosphere of the songs, and me.  Because it is fast, there’s a very high vocal as well, although there’s a lot of deep vocals on the album, which is quite new as well, it immediately brings to mind early records.”

Speaking of older material, next year is the 20th anniversary of 1998’s Cruelty and the Beast. Dani reveals that the band is “subsequently releasing that album again, but we’ve remixing it because people always had a little bit of a problem with that. They Don’t really love the sound. We were going to bring it up to date, but not at the expense of the atmosphere, so that’s going be a very fine line that we have to tread. We already done a test mix and the record company is very happy with it.” As many fans would hope, Filth promises that the drums will be more prominent in the mix: “It’s going to sound very up to date, but that’s why he didn’t want to farm it out to an outsider, as it were, someone who doesn’t really know the album. We really want to make it as atmospheric as we can without losing the power or vice versa. And that should come out about April 2018 I believe.”

Cradle of Filth have stuck with long-time producer Scott Atkin for many albums now. Filth gives a little insight into how this effects the music on Cryptoriana and previous albums: “Yeah I think it’s great. People say, ‘oh it’s all going to sound the same’ and it’s not. Absolutely not. And that’s because, as the technology moves along, we can play the songs right through. What I mean by that is guitar tones, guitar heads. You know you can fine tune the drums. These new techniques coming out to change things. We went out of our way in some places to make the album very different like I say we used acoustic guitars for example. Just way some the riffs are written some of the bass parts etc. etc. Cryptoriana is definitely a more ornate record than its predecessor.”

Cradle of Filth has released a video for Heart Break and Séance from Cryptoriana that is really striking thanks to the artistic genius of Arthur Berzinsh, who also does the cover art for them albumFilth explicates: “He was the artist for Hammer of the Witches and I wanted to use him on this album. Then I found out from some of his peers that he was as good a video director if not better than he was an artist. And so immediately I went okay and started discussing my ideas with him. We decided, for the video budget, we went to Latvia, which of course was going to be cheaper than doing it somewhere like England. And yet when we got there we were just absolutely blown away by just the enormity of the crew and the cast and the attention to detail and the props and the extras and things, and snakes. Absolutely no CGI. It’s very cinematic and indeed mimics the record. The record is very cinematic and dramatic and theatrical. He’s a really really really nice nice person. Very classy very artistic. You know he’s an author and a musician as well as a video director. There’s not much he can’t do. It’s actually sickens me to be honest.” The song Heart Break and Séance lyrically is “a Victorian tragic story of two lovers who been separated by a great war, it doesn’t specify which one, but the British Empire obviously had skirmishes all round the world in order to keep their empire. So in death he’s watching her from beyond the pale. He’s going to return to her arms while she makes contact, or tries to make contact with him, through spiritualism, through the Ouija board. And not actually getting to break through that porous border. He just watches her she spirals towards suicide and then, only then, she’s with him again. So you know it’s like a tragic love story. Any context in the video, the art work is very classically themed. It has Victorian costumes. But it’s it’s almost timeless. You’ve got that classic mythology wrapped around Victorian sensibilities.” Filth describes the experience of being painted all in black during the video shoot: “it was more uncomfortable trying to get it off for about five hours. We had to go to the airport and then realizing, ‘shit it’s still on me it’s in my ears and on my fingernails.’ We were trying to represent the personification of Death who’s always to be depicted to be pure black. Very demonic looking.” The video features Filth as Death standing above a tableau of naked extras “which is always a good thing.”

Filth then addresses the inevitable question of whether the album overall is a concept album: “Each song has a story. It’s rooted in the Victorian era. And the songs are there placed in a Victorian era like the Seductiveness of Decay, which concerned itself with Victorian England’s crowning glory, which is London and it’s the juxtaposition between its respectability and high morality and its rotten underbelly. So it’s about Romance and the macabre. it’s in the vain of Victorian Gothic horror writers like E.F Benson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.Rider Haggard, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood.” As far as the major role that aesthetics have always play in the band, Filth describes his feelings on the subject: “well obviously, the music’s of paramount importance. We’ve always been very theatrical and I just think it’s good to represent your art that that little bit further. So whether it is the lyricism, the artwork, or the videos, or the costumes. We’ve always been very finicky about how we project ourselves and I think after 12 albums and subsequent EP’s, live records and stuff you’ve kind of backed yourself into a corner and the people expect that. Every time I do an interview immediately people say Is this a concept record because they come to expect it of Cradle of Filth.”

The band has a tour coming and Filth promises it will come to the United States among other countries: “We’re just announcing the tour piece by piece at the moment. Let the dust settle around the European leg a bit. I believe with the North American/Canadian tour, the final details are just been ironed out. And then I think in the next two to three weeks that leg of the world tour will be announced. And then after that will be the third leg. Hopefully, Latin America is going to precede North America/Canada but after that will be Japan, Australia, Philippines Malaysia I think. It’s going to be, I think possibly, the most extensive will tour that Cradle of Filth have done for a long while.”

In closing, Filth had this to say about the band’s upcoming releases: “ Well obviously the album’s coming via Nuclear Blast Entertainment on September 22nd. I urge people to buy the special edition because you get not only The Night at Catafalque Manner, which is a great track. We don’t always know what we’re going to be put on the record so we buy everything and give things as much love and attention as they possibly can have, so that’s a great track. And then obviously you get the Annihilator cover as well. You know what’s a few more dollars between friends when you get like a special edition? So I advise everybody to buy that one. I advise people do go to the Cradle of Filth Facebook page because we’re always announcing stuff. And now that we are in a really busy period of releasing the record there’s stuff being announced all over the place. We’re going to Japan to play Loud Park and we hope to film a DVD there.” They have just released the official lyric video for the venomous new song Achingly Beautiful as well which is available on YouTube.

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The Dramatic Fairytale of – SEVEN DAY SLEEP

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News on December 30, 2017 by coletteclaire

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 is a very new band. However, this does not mean that they lack talent or professionalism. They bring something new to the table with an interesting blend of metalcore and gothic drama on their first release, an EP entitled A Home For Disgusting Fairies.  The members consist of Sofia Ruszczyk on Vocals, Can Temiz on Bass and synths, Okan Isik on Guitar, and new addition Jesse Farmer on Drums. Temiz describes where the band’s name comes from: “It was the name of the condo Okan and I rented on AirBnB in New York. It was the house we finalized the first demos of A Home For Disgusting Fairies at. It was a place that you could rent weekly. I think that was the reason it was called ‘.’ But it sounded much more mystical than that to us that time. And it was the exact spot that this band’s story has started.”

All the members are from different parts of the world but managed to converge together in Los Angeles. Ruszczyk elborates, “Yes we are all from different parts of the World. Can and Okan are from Turkey, Jesse is from Hesperia in California and I am from Switzerland. I was already living in LA when Can and Okan decided to move out here and we met through a mutual friend that I had from college. She hit me up asking if I wanted to audition for this metal band and I met up with Can and Okan and once I sang a little bit for them and we got to talking they wanted me to be a part of . Jesse recently joined the band, about two weeks ago, so we are really excited to have such a solid drummer part of the band now.”

It is no secret that the band’s sound is hard to describe. Ruszczyk explains: “It’s so hard to pinpoint what the sound of our band is like because as the artist you see a much broader spectrum of what the music conveys so when an outsider is listening it can be easier for them to classify what the ‘specific’ sound or ‘genre’ to the music is. However, if we have to describe our band’s sound I would say its Horror metal with fun dance grooves that have symphonic elements.”  As far as the band’s musical influences, they do give an insight into the varying sound and gothic look of the band. Temiz describes, “I think we all find inspiration from different sources. My influences vary from 90’s punk rock, metalcore, Opeth, In Flames, My Chemical Romance, and Evanescence to Old School Hip Hop, Queen, Mozart and Southern Gothic.” Guitarist Okan Isik adds, “Muse, R.H.C.P., Arctic Monkeys and Queens of The Stone Age are my main influences.” And Finally, Ruszczyk chimes in with: “A few of my influences are Marilyn Manson, Beartooth, The Used and Tesseract.”

When it comes to song writing, Temiz describes the process of creating A Home For Disgusting Fairies: “Well Okan and I had started Seven Day Sleep before we met Jesse and Sofia and I had written the songs initially.  Then Okan and I finished the compositions for the EP together.” As far as the title of the EP Ruszczyk elaborates, “We wanted the title to represent our sound and who we are as people so  really is representing a place that anyone can belong because we truly believe everyone is beautiful in some way and people would love to argue that but it’s all a matter of perspective. Being in a judgement free space where you can truly be yourself, being free is so important. We wanted to use the fairy as a creature to represent beauty and disgust because all over the world you will see different representations of a fairy and yet they all are a part of this fantasy world. It’s like our music, even with our heavy, grungy ‘disgusting’ parts it’s also sometimes the best and most beautiful part of the music.”

What’s really impressive is that A Home For Disgusting Fairies is Seven Day Sleep’s first release as a band and they did everything themselves. Ruszczyk explicates, “Yes this is the first release that we have put out as a band and it’s very exciting to finally be taking the first steps for our dream. That is correct, we have been doing everything ourselves and it’s been quite a journey where we have been learning a lot on how things work and really how much effort and work goes behind creating everything that comes with our music, but it’s so liberating at the same time, we love it!”

It doesn’t hurt that Ruszczyk is a classically trained vocalist. This prowess shows while listening to A Home For Disgusting Fairies. She explains further, “I have had classical training. When I studied at Berklee College of Music it was a requirement to sing classical repertoires. However, throughout my life I’ve had different forms of vocal training and I am still trying to learn as much as I can to improve my voice technique. I’ve been trying to focus on getting my growls and scream more solid and I’ve been using this video called ‘The Zen of Screaming’ to try and get different perspective and it’s been amazing so far.”

Seven Day Sleep is hoping for record company support, however, despite the fact that they’ve done pretty well on their own with a very professional look and sound to what they have put out.  Ruszczyk continues, “We are definitely looking for support from a record label that believes in helping us to keep creating what we are trying to achieve and express as a band. However, it might take time to get someone to notice us and that’s alright, so we will keep on trying to create and build our fan base because as long as our music and creative expression is connecting with people around the world that’s all that truly matters to us.” Judging from the 16,000+ views they already have on the A Rose Infested video this doesn’t seem like it will be a problem.

The band’s recently released video for A Rose Infested is really visually striking. The video for this track is in a dark, moody vein as it shows the band jamming in a creepy forest type setting as lead singer Ruszczyk struts around in a Gothic rocker outfit. This alternates with shots of her wandering around and picking up a gun. Ruszczyk describes how they came up with the concept, “Well we all came up with things as we started bouncing off ideas. I brought the concept of filming the story line to the song in the forest and showing this girl going on a journey to what we think is the end point of her life but we soon see that she overcomes her demons/fears and breaks free from them. Can then added that we should have a man representing her demons and that’s the figure you see in the video that is dragging me by a chain. I then wanted to have us in a black room for the performance shots and Can’s wife had the most amazing idea to hang roses from the ceiling, so we ended up hanging about 300 roses from string.” Temiz adds, “Our director Görkem Tekdal combined all of our ideas with his vision.”

As far as what the future holds, Temiz explains how the band is working on new songs now that the lineup is solidified, “We jam here and there but we are really excited to sit down and really focus on writing new material.” Isik adds, “Sofia and Jesse were not in the band while this EP’s songs were being written. Of course their participation to the songwriting process will change many things. Actually, we’re very excited to see what will come up.” As far as the direction of this new sound Temiz elaborates, “Musically our greatest passion is always exploring new musical territories, discover and try new things. But that’s something that forms when we are in studio. But lyrically I’m trying to go into a much more deeper, striking, poetic and intimate level. That’s why nowadays I’m working on Modern American Poetry and masters like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and Jim Morrison etc. But of course horror culture and fairy tales will always remain as my main influences. “

Ruszczyk concludes that there is even more on the horizon for Seven Day Sleep, “We have a lot going on in the next couple months. We will be dropping two lyric videos that we are very excited about and we have a very fun acoustic video coming out but we can’t talk too much about that for now. As far as performing you can catch us next on September 29th at the Silver Lake Lounge in Los Angeles. We will also have a couple other shows around California you can keep an eye out on our social media for dates. Last but not least, since we have Halloween right around the corner we are planning on doing a fun ‘activity’ for all of our horror fans that I personally can’t wait for, it’s going to be scary but exciting!”

Find the band at:

http://www.sevendaysleep.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sevendaysleep/
https://twitter.com/sevendaysleep?lang=en
https://www.instagram.com/sevendaysleep/?hl=en

The Bizarre Life of Darin “Dangerous D” Malfi: Blood, Sweat & More Blood

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News on December 30, 2017 by coletteclaire

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Anyone who has gone to a major rock festival or turned on a television recently has potentially been confronted by Darin “Dangerous D” Malfi and one of his deranged stunts. Malfi is a  professional sideshow performer, stuntman, and actor who currently owns and runs the largest traveling circus sideshow in the world, The Dangerous D Shock Show. He’s toured with and performed at events such as Ozzfest, Warped Tour, Musink Tattoo Convention & Music Festival, Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare, and Knotfest. He has also appeared on multiple TV shows like AMC’S Freakshow, Hellevator, and was a finalist contestant on America’s Got Talent. With this type of resume, it is certain that Malfi has probably had some insane experiences, and he decided to share some of them with us.

Usually, one’s high school guidance counselor does not have “Freak Show Performer” listed as a potential career, so one has to wonder how Malfi first discovered his unique abilities. “I’ve always been a bit nuts, but from a young age, I realized I had a high tolerance for pain and would always gravitate towards the strange, bizarre, and unusual.”  Malifi says.  “I was the guy at parties that would spit fire with liquor, or smash my head through stuff just to make my friends laugh. In Baltimore, in 2008, my good friend, Christopher Scarborough started getting into sideshow performing pretty seriously. He had great stunts, but no stage presence. At the time, I was in a band, so we booked a few shows together. It wasn’t long before I became his hype man (talker) on stage. I was like his Flavor Flav. Soon after that, we put together a full show torturing ourselves for others twisted entertainment. In 2013, I moved to Los Angeles and started performing a solo show and it snowballed from there.”

One might be wondering how the Shock Show is better or different than similar acts like Cirque Berzerk or the Jim Rose Circus. Malfi explicates, “Besides being more modern, more extreme, and better looking, I pride my show on theatrics and new stunts. We tell a story and my show has brand new pioneered stunts and feats of danger that no one else in the world performs. It’s important to evolve and not just be doing a new version of something old. I want new stunts invented!” According to Malfi, he does not use gaffs, effects, or pads when he does stunts; everything is real. His weirdest stunt, is known as “The Human Hourglass.” This trick entails him taking an industrial zip tie and constricting it around his waist making the diameter of his stomach go from 32 inches to 6 inches in 3 seconds. The most dangerous stunt he’s ever performed, thus far, is falling on concrete and broken glass into a real bear trap with a noose tied around his neck pulled about 30 feet backwards. This was for the show Hellevator during Season 1.

For those who may not be familiar, Hellevator is a 2015 American horror game show hosted by Jen and Sylvia Soska that premiered on October 21, 2015 on Game Show Network. In it, a team of three contestants rides a haunted elevator through an abandoned slaughterhouse. Malfi elaborates, “Hellevator was a killer experience! I was hired for one episode in season one to perform ‘block head’ (hammering a nail in the nose). Just one stunt. But the crew was so rad, they wrote me in like 8 different stunts and allowed me to coordinate and do it my way. I ended up shoving scissors in my nose, getting stapled, falling in a bear trap, and a few other fun ones! We got such good footage they asked me back for ALL of season 2.” Sadly, though, Hellevator will not return for a season 3.

Since Malfi performs his crazy stunts at rock and metal festivals as well, this begs the question of which is his favorite thus far: “That’s a hard one to answer…but it would probably have to be Ozzfest 2016. I ran the largest Circus Sideshow in the world, The Dangerous D Shock Show. We had over 45 performers and it was amazing! A close second was when I performed at Dr. Phil’s private birthday party last year.” Malfi goes on to explain that some other shows that stand out are Insane Clown Posse’s Gathering of the Juggalos, Ozzfest/Knotfest, Blackest of the Black Fest (with Glenn Danzig), and Musink. He explains that this year’s Blackest of the Black Fest was especially awesome because “Dave Navarro came and suspended from his back during our show.”

With his extensive experience touring, Malfi has definitely encountered some bizarre incidents inspired by his tricks and stunts. He remembers a particularly bloody evening during Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare tour: “During this event, I was performing a stunt called ‘the staple game.’ I walk through the crowd and let people staple money to my body for tips. The higher the bill, the more sensitive the place, and I’m not afraid to drop pants! After a full run of about 80 staples, I went back to the tour bus to pull the bills out and change. Rob Zombie, Sheri Moon, Tommy Lee, Kat Von D, and a few others were on the bus drinking and bullshitting. As I pulled the bills out one by one, I began to bleed pretty good and they all started watching. Most of them cheering me on, so I got Tommy Lee to staple my ball sack to my leg. After I pulled the rest out, I was covered in blood, dripping all over the place. Tommy turned to Rob and said ‘This is one crazy motherfucker.’ Rob replied, ‘If he keeps bleeding all over the place, I’m kicking him off the tour.’ It was pretty funny!”

This staple game also apparently led to an interesting run in with the Los Angeles Police Department: “One time after a show, I was taking a large bag of cash money to the bank, roughly $3,000, that was stapled to me from a few shows earlier that week. Just wanted to deposit it in my account. Some bills were covered in blood pretty bad, but I figured they wouldn’t notice. After about 30 minutes of them in the back room re-counting the money, in walks two L.A.P.D. officers. They look around and walk right up to me and ask me to step outside, so I do. Then they proceed to tell me that I fit the description of a suspect in a recent robbery/murder. They wanted to know where I got the bloody money. Well, you can only image how difficult it was to convince them it was stapled to me and it was my blood. I showed them my social media and they eventually let me go. Funny thing though, I got a letter from the Treasury Department stating they wouldn’t accept half of the cash because it was covered in bodily fluids and that’s a Federal offense. Even more funny, two nights prior, I had a police chief staple me!”

Another bizarre run in involved a famous actor: “I’ve met a lot of celebrities during events I’ve performed. Some I really liked and some I didn’t even know, but one interaction stands out. While performing my tennis racket stunt (contorting my body through an unstrung tennis racket, head-to-toe) I have my shirt off and my belt unbuckled so I can get the racket past my waist. During the performance, this drunk dude kept interrupting me trying to stick money down my pants, and making jokes like I was a stripper. I was pissed at first, but then realized he was stuffing 10’s and 20’s in there, so I played along. That was a bad choice. He got worse and worse, groping and grabbing me, driving me nuts! I finally finished the stunt and he finished with a nice big ass slap and grab! I waved security over and they grab the dude and he disappeared. I found out later that night, it was fucking Andy Dick!”

Of course, Malfi’s tricks don’t always go as planned: “Things go wrong all the time. That is what my web series, Living Dangerously is all about. You can find it on YouTube. One of the worst repercussions of my type of performing was, I think 2010, I broke so many things over my head during performances and filming, I suffered 5 concussions in one year, and some may say that left some permanent damage.”

Despite this, he is in the process of talking to different networks about his own reality show. He also performs solo shows that are anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. “I go all out. I perform most of my catalog including fire…”

As far as upcoming performances, he has Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor in October and Ozzfest Meets Knotfest in November.

Find him online at:

http://darinmalfi.com
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCffwdrMvk07hQj-731Uo0ug

Atreyu’s Dan Jacobs & Travis Miguel on Festivals, New Material, and their Hiatus

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News on December 30, 2017 by coletteclaire
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Colette Claire and her Fiance Joshua Munson with Dan Jacobs & Travis Miguel 

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On May 27 2017,  played at the Blackest of the Black Fest in Oak Canyon Park, Silverado, California. Oak Canyon Park is a sprawling 750-acre forested area in Orange County with mountains, a lake, plus fishing & camping. It was a sufficiently remote and creepy setting for the two-day long event that included sword swallowing, fire breathing, hook suspension performances, and a fake human sacrifice along with performances by some of the biggest names from the darker areas of metal music such as Danzig, Ministry, Suicidal Tendencies, Venom Inc, and Combichrist. The crowd was certainly an interesting mix of people donning black leather, spikes and band shirts supporting various sub-genres of extreme metal, including the skinny jean clad metalcore types inspired to attend because of ’s presence.

Many may remember when  exploded out of Orange County in 2002 alongside their friends and peers in what some call the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. The band started in the 1990’s with Dan Jacobs on guitar, Brandon Saller on drums and Alex Varkatzas on vocals when they were only in junior high school. Named after the character of the same name from Michael Ende’s fantasy book The Neverending Story released their first full-length album, Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses in 2002 and broke down the barriers between rock, melodic hardcore and metal.  Atreyu has maintained a fairly solid line-up throughout most of their career. The three friends, Varkatzas, Saller, and Jacobs, remain in the band to this day along with Travis Miguel on second guitar and Marc McKnight on bass. According to Varkatzas in 2015, Miguel is more or less an original member since he’s the first second guitar player and the “new guy” McKnight has been in the band for over 10 years.

After a few albums on famous hardcore label Victory Records, a couple of albums on major label Hollywood Records, the adoration of fans, clothing lines, praise and festival billing, in 2010 Atreyu disappeared for a while. During the hiatus Varkatzas mostly concentrated on fatherhood and his CrossFit & Muay Thai gym in Costa Mesa, California, while Saller became the front man for his solo effort Hell or Highwater. Varkatzas explained that the hiatus occurred partly because he was burnout and unhappy with the direction they were going. He said it felt like a redundant cycle because they were always either touring or making another record.

In 2014, on their Facebook page, the band announced that they were back making music again. They released their triumphant return Long Live in 2015. Their sixth studio album, it peaked at #26 on the Billboard Charts. It was Atreyu’s first album since they released Congregation of the Damned in 2009.

At the Blackest of the Black festival, on a beautiful May Saturday in 2017, Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel explain what they were up to during the break. Jacobs elaborates, “Travis and I in particular do a lot of writing for other artists. We’re with BMG publishing, so we do a lot of developing artists, a lot of bands in the rock/metal world, or even other types of music. They get songs written for them or we help them write their songs.”  However, both Jacobs and Miguel confirm that Atreyu is the main focus again: “that’s out bread and butter the rest of it is just margarine and pita bread.” Jacobs jokingly claims that the band does not plan to go on another hiatus “unless it’s cool again to go on hiatus. Then we’ll go on hiatus when it’s the thing to go away and come back.”

Long Live was certainly a worthy return for the band with its stripped down in-your-face style both musically and visually. For example, the video for Do You Know Who You Are, a heavy but introspective anthem, was released in 2015, and features different people holding signs that say things like “I am a fighter.” Jacobs explains, “Our bass player Mark had a lot to do with the visuals when it came to Long Live.  He did Do you Know Who You Are and any music video stuff we did for this, as well as the album art work itself. We wanted everything to tie into that vibe, and that was more of a stripped down thing.”

Atreyu just finished up a major tour at the end of 2016 in support of this latest effort and was spending some time off when the opportunity to play the Blackest of the Black Festival in 2017 came up. Jacobs explicates, “This is a pretty mellow year for us. It’s kind of an off year. We finished our album cycle for Long Live last year, but it’s a nice local show. This is our backyard. It makes it way more convenient. We can just drive home because its right around the corner. We figured why not do a metal festival?” When asked if they attended the Friday night performances at the Blackest of the Black fest, Jacobs admits, “It’s like the calm before the storm. I thought ‘do I want to go crazy and then like go crazy again tomorrow?’ We decided let’s just save it. We’re too old. You’ve got to learn how to pace yourself.” In their mid-thirties, they hardly seem too old, but it is still understandable that they stayed home on Friday May 26th 2017 to prepare for their own performance the next day. Aside from their own performance on Saturday, Miguel revealed that he’s “psyched to see Ministry. I’ve never seen Ministry before. I remember I bought Psalm 69 on CD when I was a wee lad and still haven’t gotten to see them so today’s the day.”

Since Atreyu has progressed so much throughout their career, Jacobs discusses what has changed from the beginning to now as far as their music goes: “You start to smooth things out a little bit. When your younger everything’s a little bit crazy and a little bit chaotic. You’re not sure exactly who you are as people or musicians and musically. Then you get older and you learn more about who you are as a musician. I think also working with different producers who’ve worked with different bands you just become more knowledgeable and more experienced and you can hear all that experience in every album. We’ve learned these new tricks now, or we don’t want to do this anymore because we didn’t like that, or it didn’t feel right, or it did at the time and now it doesn’t. You ask ‘why did I do that?’ or ‘how come I didn’t do this sooner?’” Miguel adds, “When we first would go into a new album we were pretty much going into it blindly because we had never really been outside of California, let alone in the studio, so we learned things on that end too, like when you go back into the studio for your second, third, fourth album, or whatever it is, so were seasoned vets now.”

As for what’s next for the band, Jacobs and Miguel confirm that a new album is in the works. Although, Jacobs says that “it’s still very new we haven’t really dove into it yet, that’s the next move.” Miguel interjects, “we have some ideas floating around, but nothing solid or concrete yet, but it’ll get there. There will be a tour after the new album its standard procedure.”

The band is also excited about their upcoming Foundation Fest event. Last year Atreyu hosted, curated, and headlined the first-ever Foundation Fest held at The Observatory in Santa, Ana, California on Friday, December 16 and Saturday, December 17 2016. Jacobs describes, “Foundation Fest is a way for us to have some hometown fun around the holidays and put together a lineup that showcases some of our favorite Orange County bands, as well as some great acts from around the globe.”  Atreyu headlined both nights in 2016 with bands such as The World Alive, Adamantium, Capsize, and Death By Zero. On Friday evening, Atreyu played a special set featuring their A Death-Grip On Yesterday album, celebrating the record’s tenth anniversary. Jacobs says, “We’ll probably start working on our next foundation fest at the end of 2017.” Miguel adds “We’re aiming to do it every year about the same time near Christmas, so hopefully that will pan out to be as awesome as it was last year. It was a lot of fun.”  Jacobs goes on to say that he enjoys festivals like Blackest of the Black and Foundation Fest because “it’s like a buffet of bands. Instead of going out and ordering one meal, it’s like, I’ll take a variety, a little of this band, a little of that band, but I’m going to save most of my appetite for that band though that’s the tasty desert at the end there.”

Later that evening of May 27 2017, Atreyu put their heart and soul into their performance at Blackest of the Black Fest. Atreyu has always had a rabid following in Orange County and this still certainly proved to remain true.

You can find out more about Atreyu at:
http://atreyuofficial.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Atreyu/
https://twitter.com/atreyuofficial?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLwScEqOxadoeFyizdrGPg

 Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein- A Man of Few Words

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News on December 30, 2017 by coletteclaire

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crop-doyle-pressIn case you weren’t aware, Misfit’s Guitarist  Wolfgang Von Frankenstein also has an eponymous band called . Their music continues in the same vein as Von Frankenstein’s former project Gorgeous Frankenstein, pairing metal riffs with punk rock beats and covering horror themed subject matter such as death, monsters, and chicks. The music is admittedly catchy, and fans of the Misfits will certainly dig it. But don’t call it a solo project, or Von Frankenstein will not be happy about it. He claims, “ is NOT a solo project, it is a band.”

The current lineup, according to , consists of Alex Story of Cancerslug on vocals, Brandon “The Crusher” Pertzborn on drums, and Izzy Strate on bass. As far as why  does not sing the songs himself he explains, “After I had written all this music, [on the band’s first album Abominator] I realized I had to get someone to sing this stuff- once I’m done recording guitars, all I can see is myself just playing that riff, you know? That’s my thing, not lyrics and singing.”

The band released a clip of the new song Run For Your Life back in February 2017. This song will be featured on ’s second album, Doyle II: As We Diewhich will be released on May 5 via EMP Label Group, the label of Megadeth bassist David Ellefson, with operations headed up by former Corporate Punishment president, A&R and marketing exec Thom Hazaert. It will also be released in conjunction with Doyle’s own Monsterman Records, which released the band’s first album Abominator.

doyleAs far as why he joined up with EMP this time around Doyle explains: “When Dave came to me with an offer for our new CD As We Die, it was a no-brainer. He has been a good friend of mine for 20-plus years, and has never done me wrong, and in this business that’s unheard of. We didn’t want to release it ourselves on Monsterman, we wanted a bigger push and EMP has a lot of exciting things happening in 2017 that will do that for us.”  As We Die will be available in different versions with alternate artwork by legendary horror/comic/album cover artist Sam Shearon, known for his iconic works with Rob Zombie, Iron Maiden, Clive Barker, KISS, Ministry and Rammstein. It will also be released in several limited edition vinyl configurations, along with a CD reissue of Doyle’s first album Abominator.

Von Frankenstein is no stranger to the world of comic book artists. Recently, Alan Roberts from Life of Agony, who is also a graphic novelist, included Von Frankenstein as a character in his Killogy series. Back in August 2016, Robert explained that, “For Killogy we partnered with a Canadian 3D animation studio and along with my company they produced a six min teaser using the actual voices of Frank Vincent from Good Fellas, Marky Ramone from the Ramones, Doyle from the Misfits and Brea Grant from Heroes. We put together basically a proof of concept clip of what the show would be and we’re in the process of talking to studios.”  According to Doyle, the series “Hasn’t happened yet.” However, judging from the available teaser clip it would certainly be a cool cartoon to watch.

 

 

When asked how it feels to be larger than Life, seeing all of these animated depictions of himself over the years, Von Frankenstein replied that it “feels normal.” One can only assume that being in the legendary band the Misfits can probably make most anomalies in life seem normal. Just recently Von Frankenstein appeared in the Rob Zombie video Gore Whore dressed as Frankenstein’s monster.

Doyle is currently on the Abominate the World Tour, which includes dates in the UK, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, and more. 2017 US Dates are yet to be announced. So far Von Frankenstein says the tour is going great, and “the crowds have been very receptive.”

Fans may be shocked to learn that while Von Frankenstein has played with the Misfits since 1980, he actually prefers playing Doyle. He proclaims, “I like it better than the Misfits by far.” Many musicians feel like there’s things they can do with other projects that they can’t do in their main project. For example, Doyle is a bit heavier than the Misfits, and a little more metal.

As far as what’s up with the Misfits right now, Von Frankenstein claims that they are currently doing “Absolutely nothing.” This is despite rumors to the contrary following the Misfit’s appearance at Denver’s Riot Fest on Sunday, September 18th2016. Glenn Danzig took the stage with the Misfits for the first time in 33 years, and the show was very well received, which made it seem likely that they might collaborate again.  When asked what it was like sharing the stage with Jerry Only and Glenn Danzig at the same time again after all that time, he simply replied, “It was funny.”

https://www.facebook.com/OFFICIALDOYLE/
https://twitter.com/DoyleAbominator

NINE INCH NAILS – Not The Actual Events

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News on December 30, 2017 by coletteclaire

nine-inch-nails-not-the-actual-events

 

When a band has a long career, it is inevitable that fans will disagree on what constitutes the “real” signature sound of that group. There are certainly many different schools of thought when it comes to  (or NIN for short), the industrial-alternative rock band founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor. On one hand, there’s the fans who think that 1999’s The Fragile was a bloated mess that came from a failed attempt to follow up 1994’s hugely successful Downward Spiral album.  This school of thought tends to also embrace the stripped-down, noisy dance rock of albums like 2007’s Year Zero or 2008’s The Slip as great works of genius that prove Reznor is still culturally relevant.  Then there’s the school of thought that believes The Fragile was a work of genius along the lines of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, who tend to shy away from the newer work of NIN, seeing it as too large of a deviation from the bands early catalog.  Luckily,  the music on NIN’s new EP Not the Actual Events might actually manage to appease almost all of their fans.  Released on Reznor’s own label The Null Corporation,  Not the Actual Events has enough old school sound to quiet down the purists, while still maintaining enough dance rock to please fans of NIN’s more recent work.  The digital pre-order was released December 23 2016, with a “physical component” that will be shipped  to buyers in late January 2017.

The first track, Branches and Bones, is reminiscent of 2005’s With Teeth album, which proved to be the transition period between the “old” NIN and the “new” NIN. It has the upbeat dance-able rhythm that has fueled much of their recent music, but also features fuzzy guitars, and creepy keyboards that give it a more 1990’s flavor. The next song on the EP, Dear Worldstarts with a similarly up tempo beat, but then the chorus slows down into much more Downward Spiral era vibe with the keyboard finally taking center stage over the drum and bass style backing. Things start to get really interesting with the dark and atmospheric She’s Gone Away, which features a slow, churning drumbeat, bluesy bass line, and Reznor singing in a low raspy voice “She’s Gone, She’s Gone…”.Next up is the song The Idea of You.  Similar to Dear World, this track picks up the pace again, but blends it with a melodic keyboard riff and distorted, chunky guitars. The standout on the EP though is definitely the last song Burning Bright (Field on Fire). This was the first song released from the EP with a video on Youtube that simply shows static on the screen while the song plays.Burning Bright (Field on Fire).opens with a steady, heavy beat, and unrelenting distorted guitar. Reznor does not even sing the verse lyrics, he shouts them under a wall of fuzz. Then the chorus comes in with Reznor singing clearly, “breakthrough the surface and breath!” This is repeated several times as the chorus builds up to a moment of silence, which is a pause before the heavy hit of the bridge smacks the listener in the face. This quiet and loud juxtaposition is a signature NIN move that always gets the blood pumping.

There is talk that NIN is working on the official follow up to 2013’s Hesitation Marks. Let’s hope they continue along the lines of Not the Actual Events. Who knows, maybe it’ll even bring together NIN fans into one cohesive unit again.

https://www.facebook.com/ninofficial
https://twitter.com/nineinchnails

GWAR’s Matt Maguire talks Comics, Crowdfunding, and Carnage

Posted in Metal Music Interviews and News on December 30, 2017 by coletteclaire

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unnamedThose who are familiar with the twisted enterprise that is  should also know about the “Slave Pit,” a team of artists and musicians that have helped  be as evil as possible throughout the years.  is a well known member of this team who joined in 1993. He went on small tours as a slave/tech until 1994 when he was hired on full time. In 1995, he became the stage manager for the  live shows. He has also been one of the lead fabricators in the Slave Pit for many years now drawing comics, making props, doing videos, and creating merchandise for the mail order department. Given his extensive background with the band, it makes perfect sense that he is one of the people working on a new  comic called : ORGASMAGEDDON.

GWAR: ORGASMAGEDDON is a 4-issue full-color GWAR comic book series that Maguire is currently working on  along with writer Matt Miner (Toe Tag Riot, Critical Hit), artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer (Welcome Back, Critical Hit), colorist Marissa Louise (RoboCop, Escape from New York), letterer Taylor Esposito (Batman Eternal, Red Hood and the Outlaws) and editor Brendan Wright (Archie vs. Predator, Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight). The comic is being financed via crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com. Maguire explains that the idea for the comic came about when “Matt Miner and I met last year to talk about another project. After a few phone calls Matt suggested that we try a Kickstarter for a GWAR comic. We laughed, we cried , we ate some pizza, then after a series of arm wrestling matches  we forgot what we were talking about and decided to just go make a comic.”

The Kickstarter Campaign now has $45,957 pledged exceeding the $39,000 goal and 666 backers. The campaign ended November 24th 2016. Maguire explains that the satanic number is not entirely a coincidence:  “ It’s funny at about 9:00 pm the last night of the Kickstarter  Matt Miner and I noticed that it was close to 666, so we rallied and got the fans to make it come in at that number. We would like to thank all the folks out there for pledging their hard earned cash to make this project happen. We have been wanting to get back into the comic world for years.” However, despite the association, Satan will not be making an appearance in the comic book: “As far as Satan goes GWAR already kicked his butt and took over the underworld, so why would we let that androgynous pretty boy into our comic!?”

Maguire is super excited that the Kickstarter campaign went so well. He elaborates, “Miner’s done a few for other comic projects, he really knows how to push and promote. We are really happy that it was success and a new GWAR comic will be coming out next year hopefully around the summertime.” Maguire discusses how crowdfunding allows for more creative freedom: “You have more control of the project for sure. I do think that more people will start going this way for the smaller projects. Crowdfunding lets people support the projects that they care about. Its perfect for GWAR our fans know what they want!”

As far as what’s next for the project now that they have reached their funding goal Maguire elucidates, “Now we roll up the sleeves and get to work! And surpassing our goal will make the comic that much cooler, hopefully with more variant covers and artwork from other Slave Pit artists. We have an outline and are starting to write parts now. Matt Miner will be writing the story I will be helping him. We have started breaking down the issues and we will start to flush out the main story. Each issue will have mini stories in it as well, one being a reprint of Bob Gorman’s Zipperpig story from Slave Pit Funnies. That was Our comic series in the 90’s. We will also have new short stories from other Slave Pit Artists.”

gwar-matt-maguire-pageAs for the story, Maguire gives a hint about the plot: “ It’s related to the last record , our main bad guy it the time traveling genetically altered human for the the future Mr. Perfect! He will be sending GWAR through time and space in attempt to destroy GWAR and take over the universe. Typical bad guy stuff really. We have not figured out if it will be a stand alone story or be part of the [overall Gwar] Mythos. With a time travel story you do have the freedom to end it any way you want. But I think we will tie it in some how.”According to the Kickstarter, the comic will feature GWAR “Straight outta Antarctica, as they bumble their way through time, making friends, killing friends, and drowning the entire human timeline in blood, bile, and, err . . . other fluids.”

If it is successful there will most likely be more than the 4 comics. Maguire describes, “I hope so! GWAR has a lot more stories to tell. Comics have been at the root of GWAR and we need to be back in the comic world. I would like to start a new series and do comics every month. With a new record and new show in the works this new comic will add to all the sick fun our fans crave!”

Given Gwar’s movies like Phallus in Wonderland and Skulhedface, it seems natural that this comic could also become a series or a film. Maguire is enthusiastic about the idea, although there is nothing in the works yet. “That would be awesome! We should have a animated show on Adult Swim or FX. GWAR was originally a movie idea from Hunter Jackson. The Scumdogs of the Universe was the title of the movie. The root ideas of GWAR came from that, so it would make sense that it should be a movie with a big budget and lots of blood and explosions!!  Oh and T-Rex’s with robots and women beating up everything… wait what was the question? Oh yeah movie! Yes all for it!”

So be sure and stay tuned for more mayhem from the GWAR camp!

The kickstarter campaign is still viewable at GWARKICKSTARTER.COM

Learn more about the Gwar mythos at http://www.gwar.net/mythos

Also check out

https://www.facebook.com/gwar/

http://www.gwar.net/