Interview: Drew Celestino (The Long Cold Dark)

*Written by Mike Deitzman and Drew Celestino

Today, I got to chop it up with one of my favorite dudes from one of my favorite local bands, Drew Celestino from The Long Cold Dark. We finally got to have a more in-depth conversation than we had last time via Facebook Live.

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The Masked Promoter: You guys have steadily been around for several years now. Tell us about the origins of TLCD. And what the name means to you.

Drew Celestino: Crazy to think we’ve been around since around 2008. At that time my previous band, Dark Alone, had been disbanded and I was jamming with Zack Del Moral, a fantastic musician who had played guitar at the end of Dark Alone, but played drums in the earliest incarnation of TLCD. Jason Oberg joined up shortly thereafter. He and I go so far back. When he joined, the band immediately felt “right.” We then started hitting stages in Buffalo and Cleveland and tightening up the songs that would become our first record, though the lineup would change a bit before that would happen. Which seems to happen a lot, unfortunately. Particularly with drummers.

When it comes to the name, I wanted something that reflected Buffalo, but wasn’t something cliche or obvious, and also had a deeper meaning. One of my favorite comic book series was Garth Ennis’ “Punisher” run, and there was a story in that run called “Long Cold Dark.” I loved how that sounded. So I tacked on “The” to make it properly refer to a thing, and not just a string of adjectives. What does it mean though? Well, I suppose it could refer to the Buffalo winters. But to me it’s also a feeling, a place inside where we go in the not so great times.

TMP: What/who are your biggest influences?

DC: I can’t speak for the entire band, but me personally, my biggest influence will always be Metallica. Haters be damned. I don’t care. My guitar playing was developed by learning as many riffs by Metallica, Slayer, Max-era Sepultura, Machine Head, and Fear Factory as possible, and my songwriting and focus on melody and hooks was instilled in me by my love for Joe Satriani. Devin Townsend, Meshuggah, and Gojira have also been long-established staples in my diet and I think that shows itself in my playing at times.

TMP: The new E.P is called Captive Audience, how is this record different than the self titled and Inner Workings of Infinity? What do you see is the progression of the band musically over the years?

DC: Well, our debut self-title record was all of the songs I had written up to that point, which included some Dark Alone songs. That record is essentially 99.9% me. “The Inner Workings of Infinity” was more of a band effort. The songs still mostly start with riffs I wrote, but we definitely forged them together, jamming them out and writing in our rehearsal space. Jason was absolutely critical on that record, coming up with some amazing riffs and arrangement ideas that totally made some songs. He understands my playing totally, and adds those extra guitar layers that I would never think of. Also, we tried a lot of new recording techniques on “Infinity.” Vocal harmonies, layering vocals, guitars, even bass. Our goal was to make the biggest sounding record we could, all on our own. I think we succeeded. “The Old Machines” for example contains an insane amount of tracks, but it’s easily one of my favorite songs.

Time went by and we sort went through a couple of drummers between “Infinity” and “Captive Audience.” It made sense to take the songs we had written to a certain point, which all sounded cohesive and like they belonged together, and make an EP rather than a full-length again. I think “CA” is an extension of what we started with “Infinity,” though the songs are written a little differently. For the most part, the songs are shorter than those on “Infinity.” We have a knack for writing long songs, so this was an attempt to tighten things up a bit. Also, some songs change in the middle and never return to how they started. That’s a bit different for us. Also, I wanted to incorporate more melody on “CA.”

TMP: You guys chose to record the album yourself. Was this a more financial move? Did you want to spend more time on writing than you would’ve been afforded if you had to be in a recording studio?

DC: There’s many reasons we’ve recorded “Infinity” and “CA” ourselves, finances being one of them of course. Another reason is we like to tinker a lot while recording. Some parts might not be worked out 100% before we start recording, so why waste someone else’s time and our own money? Control would be another reason as well. We just like to keep a tight leash on our work.

TMP: What are some things you love about the local scene? Conversely, what are some things that frustrate you about the local scene?

DC: The local scene is great in that there are many great musicians in it, and as a result, there’s a lot of respect for each other among the bands, since we all know the work and pain that can go into creating music and keeping a band together. It’s not easy.

But that’s also what frustrates me about the local scene. Because there’s so many bands in it, it’s hard to find fans that aren’t playing in another band. Drawing other musicians to see you is one thing, but bringing in people who aren’t musicians to come and see a show and buy and appreciate your music is different somehow. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.

My biggest frustration though would probably be the shrinking number of good venues for metal bands to play.

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TMP: What are some of your favorite venues in town to play both past and present and why?

DC: We opened for Gwar once at Town Ballroom. So you can bet that was my favorite stage to play ever. But since that will likely never happen again, I think my favorite stage to play these days is The Evening Star in Niagara Falls. Nice big stage, plenty of room to move around, which I like to do as much as possible, and Greg Rinker does an amazing job on sound.

Past venues… we obviously played Broadway Joe’s enough times to essentially be the house band for a time there. Not the best stage, but there was always a great sense of community in that venue. Club Diablo was the same way. Not the biggest or best stage, but the tight quarters in the venue made every show feel so full and injected a real energy to the place. It had a real vibe. I don’t know that any place really has that anymore.

My biggest regret is never getting to play The Continental.

TMP: What can we expect from the next record? Have you guys even thought about that yet? If so, is there a time frame on that?

DC: Time frame, no. But I am working on new songs and have roughly 4-5 demos of new songs in various states of completion. What to expect? That’s hard to say. Two of the songs are faster, one is more of a slog, and one is meant to be our next instrumental. How many more will we write before deciding to commit to recording them? I’m not sure. My gut says we’ll do another EP before we do another full-length, but that could change. Whatever we do, I think it will just be a further refinement of what we do best- great riffs, tight songwriting, catchy choruses, and offering something unique to the listener that other bands might not.

TMP: Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years musically? More touring? More albums? Less?

DC: I’d love to put out more material. I wish we could put out an EP a year. But that’s very unlikely. I’d like us to get out of town more and show more people what TLCD is all about. If anyone wants to help us out with that, we’re all ears.

TMP: Where are you guys located on the web? Where can we purchase the new album and shirts and whatnot?

DC: We have an official online store with CDs, t-shirts, and posters you can find at http://thelongcolddark.bigcartel.com. Our music is available on iTunes, Amazon MP3, Spotify, Pandora (“Infinity” only, sorry folks, they rejected the rest), and Bandcamp. The Bandcamp page is located at http://thelongcolddark.bandcamp.com

TMP: The realist question being…
Boxers or briefs?

DC: I wear wrestling trunks under my jeans at all times. The Metal Faces Championship is under 24/7 rules, so I must be ready to defend my title at all times.

TMP: You guys are just coming off a very well received performance at the Benefit For Dale Hinz (I’m not just saying that because I booked it, I got a lot of great feedback on you guys) what was that show like for you guys?

DC: Well, thanks for having us of course. And that’s good to hear that people dug us. Any chance we get to get in front of new people is great. It was quite a show. Everyone together for a common goal and stepping up for a brother in need. My old band played several shows with Dale and Thoughts Lost, so it wasn’t even a question if we’d do the show for him. We were honored to do it. And it was packed with great people who made it all exceed expectations.

TMP:When’s the next show? What else is on the horizon as we finish up 2016?

DC: We’re playing Sunday, October 2nd at The Evening Star in Niagara Falls with Motorizer, Super Killer Robots, Inherent Vice, The Taken, and Exham Priority.

Our next show after that will be The Metal’s First Annual Holiday Show at Stamps in Tonawanda, with the absolutely insane lineup of ourselves, Arcaenium, Dredneks, The Last Reign, Orius, and Government. Stamps may want to make sure they’re insured, because that is just a monstrous lineup that will shake the place to the foundations.

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TMP: Much respect to Drew and TLCD camp for being patient (this interview was supposed to be done in early summer, but Dale’s Benefit needed my full attention)

I highly suggest checking this band out live. As with most Buffalo bands, they absolutely crush live. Drew let you know in the interview they have a show this Sunday October 2nd with Motorizer (Motorhead Tribute band), Super Killer Robots and more this Sunday at the Evening Star. They also have an insane Xmas show in December with a who’s who of current local heavyweights.

As we wind to the end of this make sure to follow The Long Cold Dark:
on Facebook at http://facebook.com/thelongcolddark,
Twitter @thelongcolddark, and they have lots of live videos and lyric videos up at http://youtube.com/thelongcolddark

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