Photos by Meredith Snow*
We’re chatting with Drew Celestino from The Long Cold Dark once again! It’s been 10 years since this band hit the scene and during that time, I’ve seen them at just about every Buffalo metal friendly venue that either used to be or is currently available. Drew, how does it feel to be in YEAR 10 of TLCD?
Drew: Oddly not that different than the last few years! But it is indeed 10 years since this band first got rolling, and being aware of that, it feels really cool to be able to say that we’re still going after so much time. Lots of pride. I also feel like we should have more material out by now.
Mike Marlinski: Not many Buffalo bands can say the same about their longevity. As far as more material goes, some bands last 10 years and release nothing, but at least you guys put out 3 records you can be proud of. I was actually going to ask about those next.
Talk about the TLCD releases in order. What was the mood/writing process like for each release? Talk about any concepts that you had in mind before the songwriting even began. Furthermore, what kind of responses have you gotten? Which do you feel is your most successful album? Which is your favorite?
Drew: Well, the first record (self-titled), it was a collection of songs that spun out of my previous band, Dark Alone, which had a decent little run of around 5 years, but we never released anything. But TLCD wasn’t really founded on those songs. It was founded on new material that I started writing after we broke up. But to fill out the record, I did choose some of my favorite DA songs, or the most “recent” ones anyway to fill out that record. I largely recorded it myself, so it was a lot of work, and a crash course in the home studio recording process. I think at the time, the goal was to hone in on a more dual-guitar, thrashy sound than Dark Alone had been doing.
But things changed a lot between the first record and the second (The Inner Workings of Infinity). Mostly, our lineup.
Which sadly is a bit of a thing for us, mainly drummers. But that’s band life I suppose.
But we also changed bass players. And we owe Phil Boyle from Cleveland’s Days Beneath a huge debt of gratitude for playing bass for us in those early years. But, on that second record, it was more of a group effort. More so than the first by far. We wrote a lot more together in the room. Adam Malone (bass) joined, and my band life-mate Jason Oberg (guitar) made his presence much more felt in the second record. He wrote some awesome parts, steered the feel of a lot of songs, and recorded and mixed the entire record. We lost our drummer though in the middle of recording, which hurt a lot. Mitch Krieger was really integral to the band at that time, and his contributions should not be understated. He was awesome. That lineup had a real magic. We got a great drummer in the band with Dan Metz, but the band never quite felt the same.
Dan did awesome though, but he also left. So that brought in Collin Folger, who was also excellent and that led us to doing our third release, the Captive Audience EP.
In a lot of ways, it felt like a continuation of The Inner Workings of Infinity. But I sorta took charge again of most of the songwriting. Jason made sure to develop the end bit of “Undefine”, which is one of our favorite songs by far, largely because of that ending.
We did some great shows in the wake of Captive Audience, but again, we had a drummer exit.
So once again, I’ve taken the reins and have been writing and writing for whatever we do next.
Mike: For those who aren’t aware, the outro of “Undefine” is a heavy hitting chug riff that volleys between two different drum beats and picking patterns, creating a lovely Gojira style skull crusher.
Drew: Gojira became a HUGE influence on me somewhere before the second record, but it was definitely showing its influence more on Captive Audience.
Mike: Do you feel like your next release is going to be an EP or LP? Extended play or long play? Extra pickles or less pickles?
Drew: Well, life in TLCD Land is crazy right now. I have a baby coming! So it’s hard at the moment to commit to a long recording process. I have written about 5 songs so far.
Mike: Anything you can reveal about the behind the scenes TLCD life as of late?
Drew: I would like the next release to be a full-length album. But with our schedules and real lives, we are currently looking at a more “song by song” approach. We have been recording a new song over the last few weeks. So keep your ears open, because with a little luck, you’ll be hearing it soon. We have a new drummer. And it makes me really happy because it’s someone that Jason and I go a long way back with, and that is Eric Guido. We all were in our first band together in the late ’90s. We went down different paths over the years, but here we are back together, and it’s really awesome. It feels “right.” It feels full circle in so many ways.
Mike: That’s serendipitous in a way. Glad to hear it. I wasn’t entirely sure who the drummer was. Was there an announcement or not?
Drew: No. There was going to be one a few months ago, but right in the middle of getting things in order, he got hurt at the Machine Head show at Town Ballroom in the pit, and was out of commission for about 6-8 weeks, Just our luck!
So consider this the announcement!
Mike: With all the lineup changes, the morale of the band must’ve waned a bit over time. Who kept things alive and kicking? Was it you or was it a collective effort? You, Jason and Adam have been at this for quite awhile now, so I’m curious about what’s kept the three of you in TLCD mode all this time?
Drew: The three of us for sure have been the driving force. I mean, I guess me specifically, but without the two of them, TLCD wouldn’t be TLCD. As far as what’s kept us together, I think it’s a shared belief in what we do. We have a unique sound, at least we think so, and we all have a desire to not be cliche, or to be distilled down to one specific style. We try not to do the “expected” thing, or whatever might be “popular” at the moment in the metal world. We just stick to our guns, trust each other, and push each other.
Mike: Finally, let’s hear about the biggest shows TLCD have played in the last decade.
Drew: The ones that immediately spring to mind are all of our album release shows. 2010 at Club Diablo, where we had so many friends from so many places in the country come down to support us. 2013 at Broadway Joe’s, with a packed house, and a torrential downpour that literally flowed inside the venue, and created a river down Main Street that Pollock and their crew jumped into in their underwear. 2016 at Stamps, where again it was packed, and we played great, and sounded great.
Opening for Devin Townsend Project in Cleveland, OH. What an honor that was for me personally. Devin is a hero of mine. We got to open, again thanks to Phil Boyle, and Brian Waddell, Devin’s bassist who hung out with us at our merch table after the show for like an hour or more. Devin also wished us well before we left. Great night. And opening for Gwar at Town Ballroom. People still talk about that show around here! Some dudes gave us praise outside the venue as we were loading out. Turns out it was Gwar, without their costumes. We were stoked.
Well, I have what I need. T’was a pleasure as always. Congratulations on the kid, the band, the home brewing…everything.
Drew: Thanks so much dude! So much to say. I could talk forever about this stuff.
Mike: Oh, I almost forgot. I did have one more question. Why did you send someone to beat up Mike Deitzman?
Drew: THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER!