Halothane: A Serpent’s Gaze review and interview

Halothane’s second full length album The Serpent’s Gaze is due to be released on May 30th. They’ve released it’s first track “Threads of Authenticity”, which I was given the pleasure of premiering on this week’s episode of Grim Dystopian podcast and is now available for streaming on their bandcamp. 

For me this is an exciting and pivotal release from a band I’ve been closely involved with since 2010. This is the first time in a long time I’ve heard all entirely new material from Halothane. On A False Reality some songs were re-workings of tracks on their debut EP Dissention, as well as material they’d been working on here and there for a few years before (as is bound to happen with 6 years between those two releases). Halothane has really pushed themselves with this release, delivering some killer tracks that display a new level of maturity and nuance. The old Halothane sound is there, but now cranked up to 11.

When I told Halothane’s Nicholas Alan that I’d be on this podcast and thought it would be cool if I could premier a song from their upcoming album, since the episode would be coming out just before its scheduled released, he was all for it, and basically sent me the whole album and had me pick out which song I’d premier. I knew right away it had to be Threads. That opening riff just grabs you and pulls you in. I get these little guitar melodies stuck in my head all the time. I knew this was a song that people would really connect with.

I’m not really one for breaking down each song individually, plus I find that kind of boring, so I’m not going to do that. All I will say is this album is exciting, dynamic, with varied tempos and moods, and even a surprising amount of clean singing on the last track. It really sets the bar high for the local melodic death metal scene. I’m very excited for everyone to be able to hear the rest of this album.

I had a chance to do a little virtual interview with Nicholas, founding member and the man behind the mixing console at Subterranean Audio where this album was put together, to talk about the album and future plans for Halothane.

Rachel Ardour: How did you approach the writing aspect differently on this album as opposed to previous releases?

Nicholas Alan: We approached this one as more of a collaborative effort. Everyone who wanted a say in the songs did their part and I feel like it comes across as a much more cohesive effort.

RA: What kind of new studio tricks were used recording this, or any special equipment you’d like to give credit to for the sound?

NA: We used this record as a trial by fire for the new studio we built. I could bore you discussing all the new microphones and studio toys we’ve been playing with but one of the standout things that had a huge effect on the sound of this one was our switch to Mesa/Boogie amps.

RA: What artists, authors, movies, etc. were you inspired by during the writing and recording process?

NA: Musically, the biggest influences on this one were Enslaved, Opeth, and Insomnium. We’re obviously huge fans of the Gothenburg stuff so Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, and the older In Flames stuff deserves to be mentioned too!

Speaking for myself here with the other influences, I was digging into Albert Camus, Luke Rhinehart, and Aldous Huxley during the writing and recording process. 

RA: What was everyone’s main beverage of choice during the recording for this album?

NA: It’s hard to imagine Joe Sno without a six pack of Saranac Pale Ale and Joe Tash doesn’t really have a beverage of choice, I mean he’ll drink almost anything as long as it’s not scotch, which along with coffee happens to be my beverage of choice

RA: Any plans for physical releases, new merch to come out with this release?

NA: Most definitely. The pandemic screwed everything up; we’re constantly working with our friend Justin on new designs for T-shirts and other merch and as long as the demand is there we’ll be cranking some new stuff out during the next couple months.

RA: Obviously everything is up in the air right now, but do you think we can expect a sort of CD release/celebration show for this when everything opens back up?

NA: We were supposed to do a CD release show May 30th but obviously due to current events that won’t happen, so as soon as we get the okay we’ll be working on putting together a banger with some of our favorite bands from the region. Even if we can’t do it at a traditional venue we’ll be exploring our options and we’ll make sure it’ll be one to remember!

The album is currently available for preorder on Halothane’s bandcamp page.

Halothane Facebook
Halothane on Spotify
Halothane on iTunes
Subterranean Audio
Grim Dystopian: Metal for your Filthy Earballs

CEMETERY ECHO: GOTH ‘N’ ROLL!

Yesterday, I took some time away from my busy “start as many new bands as possible” campaign, to interview the Cemetery Echo boys. This new “Goth ‘n’ Roll” band is ready to take the Buffalo/Rochester scene by storm, and frankly, I couldn’t be happier about this much needed dose of originality in the local metal circuit. Plus, aside from learning all I could about C.E., I touched on a few elements of everyone’s musical past, and things took a pretty interesting turn in this piece as a result. Check it out!

Mike Marlinski: Who came up with the name, “Cemetery Echo”?

Rob Palumbo: I asked the guys if anyone could remember who came up with the name but none of us remember who. All we remember is we were all at Forest Lawn Cemetery walking through the monuments and there was a weird echo that was coming off of the stones, and someone was like it’s a “Cemetery Echo” and and another dude was like, “Hey that should be the name of our fake goth band.”. It all kind of started as a joke.

MM: How much Danzig era Misfits carries into the group’s collective influence for writing this music?

RP: I think it’s hard to make horror rock or metal and not acknowledge them as legends. I wouldn’t say they made an impact on our songwriting however.

MM: When you guys started the band, was “Goth ‘n’ Roll” music your intention right out the gate?

RP: No, I wouldn’t say it was (laughs). We didn’t even call it that until everything was recorded and done. We are also calling it Haunt ‘n Roll. I like that. I think as time progressed more of our metal influences that we were trying to repress started creeping back in, and the rock aspect just bridged the gap between goth and metal in a fun and different way. We like Black ‘n Roll and a lot of the guitar sounds mesh well with the post punk/goth stuff. The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim were our biggest influences, along with bands like Bauhaus, The Cure, and Christian Death. The rest just kind of happened along the way. We are very excited to continue developing our sound.

MM: Was it always your intention to scream and sing these songs, or did you gradually craft your vocal sounds after the music was written?

RP: I had no idea what I was gonna do at first. I was more worried about playing bass in a band for the first time with dudes who have been playing guitar in bands for close to 2 decades. The vocals will probably evolve as I pass bass duty on to Kenny. They came pretty naturally, but they definitely were custom built for the project too. So yeah, I think harsh vocals and metal guitar have their place in this band as long as they are also dark and atmospheric.

MM: From Canto V, to Theatre Nocturne, to Ghost Sequence, to Liber Ivonis, to Cemetery Echo, you’ve been in some very different sounding projects. That said, who are your top 10 vocalist influences you can think of right now, off the top of your head?

RP:

Ann Wilson (Heart)

Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity)

Meatloaf

Andrew Eldritch (The Sisters of Mercy)

Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity, Steel, Dan Swano)

Robert Smith Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode)

Jon Nödtveidt (Dissection)

David Vincent (Morbid Angel)

Ozzy Ozzborne

MM: Given the global pandemic, how much of Cemetery Echo’s writing process was done virtually in preparation for your EP release?

RP: This ep has been in the works for a while, it just so happened to finally get mixed and mastered during this. It’s actually not terrible timing for us, it gives us time to release our music and come back to the project with clear heads. We are gonna use this time for ourselves and go right back to writing when things settle down.

MM: Switching gears for a moment, horror films have obviously played a role in crafting Cemetery Echo’s creepy content. Talk about some of your favorite horror films; especially those that directly influenced your lyrics (if any).

RP: Yeah, we all are huuuuge horror fans! Jay, Erik, and myself have had a handful of old projects we have toyed with and all of them have been horror related. This just happened to be the one that made it out alive. The ep is actually named after a story from a 1972 issue of the DC horror comic, The Witching Hour. The lyrics from Youth Disease are influenced by the 1994 movie Cemetery Man, The Lost Boys, and a 1999 Ray-Ban commercial that featured vampires. Castlevania comes up in conversation a lot when we are making music. We love all forms of horror. Some of the clips we used for the video are from Subspecies, Cemetery Man, Werewolf Shadow, Castle of Dracula, Jean Rollin films like Lips of Blood, The Shiver of the Vampires, and Fascination, Dracula’s Great Love, The Blood Splattered Bride, and various old Hammer Film scenes.

MM: You’ve been jamming with Erik for awhile now. At what point was it decided that you guys were going to shift your focus from melodic death metal to Goth ‘n’ Roll?

RP: It kinda just happened. Liber Ivonis was having trouble with drummers and one day we just said fuck it. Fake drums definitely contributed to the sound. We already had the name Cemetery Echo for a joke fake goth band but one day we just decided to go for it. Erik, Jay, and myself were sooo burnt out from metal projects losing members, falling apart during recording, rerecording songs 4 times sometimes I think we all just wanted to do something different.

MM: Is there anything you can divulge about the forthcoming EP?

RP: The EP is inside your home already!!!! It’s right behind you!!!!!!

MM: Can you recommend any lesser known horror-themed bands or horror films the public NEEDS to know about?

RP: I asked the boys to give you some video store employee picks. One old horror movie, one new, and a band. Not necessarily our favorites but movies we love and want to share.

Jay: “I’ll say The Void (new) and Night of the Werewolf (old) for films, hmmmmm….and Carach Angren for horror band!”

Rob: “For new horror I will always champion The Barn, old I got to go with The Guyver, horror band The Axis of Perdition. ”

Erik: “I’m gonna say Baskin for a newer movie and The Haunting for an oldie and motherfucking GOBLIN for a horror band.”

Kenny: “I think my new one is probably Mandy, for the old one I’ll go with Reanimator, and for band Danzig era Misfits.”

Cemetery Echo are: Rob Palumbo – Vocals, Erik Wagonblott – Guitar, Jay Zgoda – Guitar, Kenny Zotara – Bass

CHECK OUT THE FIRST CEMETERY ECHO SINGLE, “YOUTH DISEASE”, BELOW!

SHOTGUN INTERVIEW!: Joe Musial (Prepare for the Mindscan, Wageslave)

Most people know Joe Musial because of his drunken fits of rage behind his drum kit over the years, but during this quarantine, I wanted to get downright and personal with this metal drumming staple of the Buffalo music scene. Joe’s someone I’ve known since 2004, and despite life keeping us in separate arenas, we have enough history to warrant this lovely piece. So, yesterday, I bombarded him with 20 questions from the heart.

And in response, Joe gave me exactly what I was hoping for…

1. How long have you been playing drums?

A: I took my first drum lesson Feb 26th, 2000. It was the day after my 11th birthday.

2. How old were you when you got your first drum set?

A: 11, I had to take a month of lessons seriously to earn a drum set.

3. Did you have to fight with your parents over owning a drum set?

A: Not at all! My father plays guitar, and he went with me to every drum lesson until i was 18. I’ve been very lucky to have extremely supportive family.

4. Did you always want to play drums, or did you have a different instrument in mind?

A: I flirted with the idea of playing guitar, but had always found myself tapping along to everything. One day it just hit me, while tapping on a desk in school, I want to play drums!

5. Think back to your first band. Was it exactly what you wanted at the time, or were you just trying to play in a band?

A: BREAK THE STATIC, was my first band in high school. I was really into hardcore punk at the time, and I wrote all of the lyrics. For the time, it was exactly what i wanted.

6. Which do you like more: playing live or writing/recording?

A: That’s a tough one, because I love creating music, but playing live is where all the magic comes together. The stage has always felt like a home to me, and I always tell people that they will never fully know me until they see me perform.

7. What do you think are the pros and cons of being active with metal music in today’s society?

A: CONS: Many people don’t take metal music seriously, as far as the mainstream goes. It will always be “oh you ply that screamo stuff” PROS: The community, for sure! I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of amazing people, and share the stage with some of my absolute heroes over the years. I wouldn’t change a thing.

8. When we first met, you were in Death is Promised. What was your first impression of the band, given your age and frame of mind at the time?

A: I was 16 when i joined the band, and everyone else was 20-21. It was the first “metal” band that I was in, so I was extremely proud to be asked to join that band, and it’s how I met you and so many other people.

9. From a personal standpoint, talk about some of your most cherished friendships you’ve formed from being part of the metal scene.

A: It’s crazy the bond that is created by making music together. I’ve made so many great friends over the years but one that sticks out the most is Shawn Gomez. He’s my brother and my best friend, and we’ve been playing together for over a decade.

10. When it comes to gear, talk about the drums, cymbals and hardware you prefer, and any special upgrades you’ve made on your kit(s) over the years.

A: I’ve actually had my Tama Starclassic Maple kit since 2005, and she’s still a beauty to this day! I prefer Tama drums and hardware personally, because I change set-ups between a 6 piece and a 4 piece depending on which band I am playing with, and Tama hardware is extremely versatile and give me my desired setup every time. For cymbals I generally stick with Sabian, but i have a few Meinl cymbals mixed in.

11. In 2006, I contacted you to replace me in Awaiting Ruin. This led to Winnie Cooper, Prepare for the Mindscan, and possibly other bands. Most notably, is Prepare, since that band is now 11 years old, unless I’m off. Talk about your best shows and most memorable experiences with Prepare.

A: Prepare has been through so many ups and downs, and it’s incredible that we are still active today after 11 years (you are correct). We blew the rear-end up in Pittsburgh a few years ago and had to cancel our weekend. We did a redemption trip the following year, and played in this amazing skate park in Binghamton. That show was the most memorable for me. Media Limits is an awesome band from that area and they set up in the cramped library section of the skatepark, it was WILD.

12. Piggybacking off Q11, talk about your most memorable experiences at The Lair, since The Lair was unquestionably Prepare’s home away from home.

A: The Lair has a very special place in my heart. We were able to meet and play with so many incredible musicians. I think the night that the sink broke and flooded the basement was the most memorable. I ended up crashing there and fixing the plumbing the next morning. We ended up moving the bands to the driest spot and continuing the show. I feel bad for anyone that didn’t get to experience The Lair, because it was truly special, and Eareckson is one of the most genuine human beings i have ever met.

13. Has your drumming increased or decreased since the start of the pandemic?

A: I dealt with an injury over the winter, including some pretty nasty nerve damage in my right arm. This has actually given me time to ease back into drumming, as I was unable to even hold a stick for 3 months. I’m getting stronger everyday, and I’ve gotten a lot of my dexterity back. I’m taking this time to get back to 100% without pushing myself too hard. So the beak from shows and practices have been beneficial, but holy shit do I miss hanging out with the boys!

14. Are your bands following social distancing, or are you guys still on a jam schedule of some kind?

A: We are following protocol. A lot of us have parents over 60 with health conditions, as much as we all want to play, we are doing our part to flatten the curve and protect ourselves and our families.

15. Name other local bands that first got you into checking out local shows, as well as other local bands that stand out to you in the scene as it exists today.

A: I actually saw Threebelow when i was 14 at X-wheelz, well before i knew anyone in the scene personally. I had never seen double bass kit in person before, and Al blew my fucking mind. He’s actually always been a huge inspiration to me, and a good friend. I played a lot of my first shows with Bangerang and Switch 86, so those were bands that I looked up to. I don’t know if this needs to be said but ‘NERTIA BABY. How lucky are we to have a band of that caliber in our city?! Grizzly Run is doing some great things, and looking for a drummer right now. But they’ve been a breathe of fresh air in the scene. Can’t forget Anthropic, those dudes are some of the hardest working motherfuckers I’ve ever met, and they’ve been doing some amazing work over the years (CHECK OUT THEIR NEW ALBUM NOW). Prepare may or may not have some exciting news involving the Anthropic dudes once this is all over.

16. Who is your favorite local drummer other than yourself? There are soooooo many good drummers in Buffalo, and I really don’t have a favorite. Talking drums at shows is my favorite thing in the world, and we all kinda trade advice and support each other. The drumming brotherhood is real.

17. Are you currently giving e-lessons to drummers during the pandemic? If not, do you plan to start?

A: Since i’m not 100%, and am an essential worker, I have not been. I am in the process of building a new PC though, so it may be an option in the future, as i’m limited by the current laptop i have.

18. How have your musical tastes changed since you started playing in local metal bands?

A: Definitely! Jay from PFTMS has turned me on to so much obscure grind and sent me down a little rabbit whole of my own. I feel it’s important to listen to the type of music you play, because let’s be honest…. everyone borrows from everyone, myself included. I actually stole a fill from a Red Chord song and use it in a Winski song LOL. So my metal influences have made their way into pop/punk

19. Talk about a drumming technique you’re still having trouble with and working on improving every day.

A: I can’t do double strokes on my kick drum to save my life, but it is something i tinker with. Gravity Blasts are my best friend and my worst enemy, getting every snare note to POP and sync up with the double kicks is definitely a constant struggle, and I’ve been working on them for 6 years.

20. Give advice to drummers who can’t play their kits right now because of the pandemic, for whatever reason.

A: HOLD TIGHT, FAM! The beauty of drumming is you can hit sticks on anything. If you have to buy a practice pad kit for your apartment, do it!

Follow-up Interview: Danielle Evans and Serge Streltsov (Automb)

So, once again, on November 23rd, 2019, we’re throwing a pretty diverse show at Mohawk Place. This will be our second annual “Snovember Reigns” and the bands we have lined up for it are pretty wild.

Just a few days ago, we checked in with Fabio Sisco from the Garden State’s own, Dead City Crown, Now, we’re doing a follow-up interview with Danielle Evans and Serge Streltsov – the architects of Pittsburgh PA’s Automb.

MM: Now that you’re getting closer to the release of the new album, what can you tell us about it?

Artwork sneak peek:

automb1

Automb: Well it’s definitely darker and more aggressive. Probably a bit more progressive and more developed than the previous album. But nonetheless, it definitely has the signature Automb sound. We think this one will capture more attention.

MM: Will Scott Fuller (Morbid Angel) be tracking drums again?

Automb: Yes! The record is done.

MM: Last we spoke, you said your hometown scene for your style of music was dwindling. Where have you had the most success when it comes to crowd response?

Automb: It depends. Ohio has been great as well as other states like New York. Depends on the bill.

MM: Do you guys have anything special planned for the Belphagor show?

Automb: It’ll be our shortest set list unfortunately. We weren’t given a long time slot. But we are bringing the full Automb stage show that we had at our last tour.

Who are your favorite modern black and death metal bands? As in, bands who’ve come out in the last ten years or so.

Automb: Vltimas, Cult of Fire, Sinsaenum, 1914.

MM: Is there any gear, whether it be guitars, amps or otherwise that you guys use exclusively or swear by?

Automb: ESP, Peavey, Mesa, Seymour Duncan, EMG

MM: Does Automb ever get the “female-fronted” label, and how do you respond to that descriptor?

Automb: We do, and we don’t care what people label us as long as people include that it is black metal. We don’t fit in with the majority of female fronted bands. The music speaks for itself.

MM: Name some of the best smaller bar venues or DIY venues you’ve experienced.

Automb: Buzzbin in Canton, OH was great. The Winchester and Now that’s Class in Cleveland. Cherry Street station in Connecticut.

MM: Was there ever a time you ended up on a bill with bands of completely different genres than your own?

Automb: Usually they pair us well with extreme metal bands, but when we did our recent headlining tour, there were some very odd styled opening bands that were not death or black metal.

MM: Have you ever played Western New York before?

Automb: We have not. We are very excited to bring our Esoteric cult show to your region for the first time.

MM: Name the bands that first inspired you to play blackened death.

Automb: Belphegor, Behemoth, Hate


Check out Automb‘s debut, Esoterica below and prepare for Snovember Reigns II on 11/23/19 at Mohawk Place!

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Shotgun Interview!: Fabio Sisco (Dead City Crown)

We’ve got Dead City Crown from Clifton, NJ on few killer shows we have coming up! DCC is a killer melodic death band on the rise with a bright future ahead of them. Click on a few songs below and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s their Rex Mortuus EP:

Last night, I ambushed Fabio Sisco, DCC’s mastermind with ten questions about the mighty Dead City Crown:

MM: How did you come up with the name Dead City Crown?

FS: I’ve always been fascinated with post apocalyptic imagery, (ruined cityscapes, abandoned hubs of civilization after fallout, etc.) so that’s where the phrase, “Dead City” came from. As far as “Crown”, me and Carl’s (vocalist, lyricist) previous band had a crown drawn into the logo, so I took that idea with and combined the words to make the name Dead City Crown, and that also serves as tribute to how we met and began making music together.

MM: Did you start the band?

FS: Yes, along with Carl and our first bassist Erick Hugo, and Erick’s laptop that served as our drummer and string section until we solidified the lineup a few years later. Our first rehearsal space was a storage room upstairs from a truck repair shop, so we would practice over the sounds of revving truck engines while breathing in diesel fumes. I hold fond memories of those days.

MM: How is melodic death metal perceived in NYC/NJ? Decent scene?

FS: It’s definitely been flourishing over the recent years! I’m actually quite impressed at the amount of talent there is in our area, especially of the melodeath variety. The local circuit has always been primarily comprised of heavy bands, but I’ve noticed more artists have begun to prioritize melody and song structure first in their songwriting. They’re moving away from the generic breakdown miasma you couldn’t escape from until recently. The scene is strong and thriving.

MM: You recently told me that you’re adding a keyboardist. Any reason you chose to omit backing tracks with keyboards from previous live sets?

FS: We are adding a live keyboardist, Kyle Morrison, to the lineup for our two upcoming shows with BattleBeast and Nile. Why haven’t we used backing tracks before? No reason other than we simply never got around to making it happen. Our live shows have always gone over well with audiences even without backing keyboard tracks so there wasn’t really ever any type of urgency to begin utilizing them. Besides, I think we lucked out immensely meeting Kyle because of how talented he is and how crazy well his style blends in with ours. So in a way, it’s all been leading up to this moment and these two shows where we can present the atmosphere and epicness of the DCC sound in the best way possible.

MM: Name a few DCC songs that you’re most proud of. If someone is listening to you guys for the first today, with limited melodic death experience, what are some good beginner songs of yours?

FS: Damn, this almost hurts more than deciding which songs to cut from the set. It’s like deciding which of your children you love the least. Alas, my top 3 would have to be: “Invictus”, “Apex of Fury,” and “Expedition Crisis”. Anyone curious about our band can get a good idea of what they’re about to get into with these 3 tracks, seeing as how we touch upon a few subgenres with those tracks alone. You’ve got your melodeath, power, folk, symphonic, and modern elements just coming together and making a beautiful mess all over the place.

MM: Who was the first melodic death band you got into? Which band started you down this path? Can you remember a specific song?

FS: Children of Bodom with the track “Needled 24/7”. I remember being 15 and picking up Hate Crew Deathroll at my local FYE when record stores were nearing their final days, simply because the reaper swinging his scythe looked so fucking cool. Oh, and that ruined city background though 😉. I slip the CD into my discman for the bike ride home and I remember having to stop pedaling 30 seconds into “Needled” because I couldn’t believe at all what the hell I was hearing. Alexi’s vocals kick in and I had to just give up and take a seat on a nearby bench to take this all in. I’d never heard anything so wild and ferocious before and I couldn’t stop listening. I played and replayed that CD to the point of ruin and eventually had to get myself a second copy. After Bodom, I naturally explored more similar sounding artists which led to my discovery of In Flames, Kalmah, Norther, Ensiferum, etc and I’ve been merrily trotting down this path ever since.

MM: Name some other subgenres of metal you’re especially fond of.

FS: Power metal has and most likely always will have full sovereignty over my heart. I’m also hugely into goth metal with Finnish bands such as To/Die/For, For My Pain, The 69 Eyes and more. I’d even say I’ve been influenced mostly by these artists when it comes to songwriting and composing.

MM: For those who don’t know, summarize your future shows and recording plans.

FS: We are opening for Battle Beast on October 20th at Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ and then returning to Gramercy Theatre in NYC in support of Nile and Terrorizer on November 4th. Finally, we’ll be shooting up north to Buffalo on November 23rd for the Snovember Reigns II showcase, which I am hugely stoked over. As far as recording plans, we have all our studio time booked this winter for our next release that’s scheduled for mid 2020. No further details to add at this time, however.

MM: Will you have your keyboardist for the 11/23 show?

FS: This has not been discussed yet.

MM: Have you played Western New York before?

FS: Nope! But we are all looking forward to making our debut next month and of course returning next year to support the almighty Nightrage for Mino’s Melodic Death Fest!

Check out Dead City Crown on these upcoming Metal Webzine shows!


Dead City Crown are:

Carl Conquest – Vocals
Fabio Sisco – Guitar
Brad Harmon – Guitar
Anthony Ponce – Bass
Jorge Hernandez – Drums

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Shotgun Interview!: Robby Warren – Wageslave

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We’re still in the middle of the Government shutdown (see what I did there?) and Robby Warren has got himself a new band! Let’s check it out!

Mike Marlinski: Wanna interview about Wageslave?

Robby Warren: Sure!

MM: Cool. When will you have time?

RW: I have time right now! Lol if not now probably later on tonight

MM: Word, dude. So, how long have you been sitting on these songs?

RW: This first single we’re going to be putting out is the oldest one of the bunch. I’ve had this one in my pocket for probably 2-3 years now. I’ve always felt it was a strong piece but for whatever reason it kept being thrown to the wayside. The other songs I currently have have I’ve been sitting on for about a year. After I left my last band I went on a bit of a writing binge trying to push my playing and my writing quite a bit and I think these songs portray that nicely.

MM: Who came up with the name, Wageslave? I’m assuming you’re appealing to the 9-5 employee lifers out there.

RW: My man Rob McCready who is doing vocals in this project is the one who came up with the name. We were sitting there trying to come up with anything that wasn’t super cringey like most band names and failing miserably. Haha. Rob threw it out there randomly and we fell in love it. WORKING CLASS METAL! Something that is relatable like that will hopefully grab attention of new potential fans. Let’s face it. We’re all slaves to the man.

MM: Right on, man. The artwork is killer too. Who did that? And as for the music, you’re recording everything in house for now, right?

RW: Yeah I’m super stoked on how the artwork turned out. The artist’s name is Reisya Ibrahim. He’s a young artist from Indonesia actually who does this kind of vibrant modern looking artwork. As for the recording process we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to do the rest of the album. We did this single with Mike Hatalak (ex It Dies Today) who I think is hands down the best in the area for recording metal bands. I would ideally like to record the rest with him but we’re going to cross that bridge later. It’s possible we might record everything on our own and pay to have it mixed and mastered but there’s just something about working with Mike in the studio. He has such an ear for things and gives me things to try to get the best out of the riffs.

MM: That’s awesome, man. I’m glad Mike’s still recording and taking names. So can you release any info about other band members?

RW: This began as a studio project with Rob and myself with the hopes of taking it live. I have a few people I’m trying to work with and make sure they’re the right fit. A little early still for me to say for sure. Hopefully very soon I’ll be able to announce that.
I’m trying to push my limits as a guitar player and I want the other musicians surrounding me to do the same. The material I’m writing is fast and quite notey haha.

MM: That’s great, man. I’ve watched you grow like crazy as a guitarist over the years. I can only imagine what From the Sky would sound like today.

RW: I think about that quite often honestly. Facebook is nice (and sometimes not so nice) for having a look down memory lane. I see old videos pop up and will watch them to see how drastically my playing has changed over the last 13 years as a guitar player. I had so much fun in From The Sky. It was my introduction to really being in a band that plays shows and records. It’s also cool to see how good my man Travis Coffman (drummer for GAWD) has become over the years too. If Trav and I ever linked back up to do more From The Sky I think it would be gnarly.

MM: We want Wageslave at The Metal’s 5th Anniversary on Saturday March 28th. You’ve already said you’d play it if the band stays a thing. I’m just putting this out there because you have to know the peeps around town want this band to happen just as badly as you do.

RW: Haha it’s so cool to see that people are still supporting me like this. I posted the 12 second teaser yesterday of the new song and have had 4-5 show offers already. I appreciate the love and support everyone has been giving me lately. I’m really hoping this all comes along fairly quick because I’m itching to play live again and I really think this material is going to slay live.

MM: So, to get people hyped, can you compare Wageslave to a couple popular bands? What kinda metal crowd will you cater to the most?

RW: Ah yes. The question I was waiting for. Haha. Rob and myself are huge into thrash metal so that was a must for these songs but I also wanted them to have a modern style to it as well. I hope it has a little bit of everything that any metalhead can get behind. If I had to compare it to some bands I guess I would say Sylosis meets As I Lay Dying. Probably not a good one to throw out there but that band has really influenced since I was a teenager. I love fast riffy songs with a killer drummer to back it all up.

MM: That’s sick, man. It’ll be nostalgic as fuck for a lot of people to have a band like that in scene. Plus, you’ve always been learning other people’s songs. It’s nice to see you at the helm.

RW: Haha yeah it’s been a minute since I’ve been sitting in the captain’s chair. I’ve spent the last 5 or so years trying to mold my writing into a certain sound and now I get to take it up that extra few notches I’ve been wanting to.

MM: Good for you, man. We’re all happy for ya and we can’t wait to hear the album!

RW: Thanks so much, dude!
Thanks so much dude!

The Disgruntled Buffalo Metal Elitist Discusses Buffalo Metal Festival 2019

By now, we’re sure you’ve heard all about it. Last night, Chad from Mass Casualty decided to quickly move Buffalo Metal Fest Pt. 1 from Woodlawn Beach to Evening Star Concert Hall in Niagara Falls. due to the weather. Nobody wanted to risk their equipment getting wet, nor did they want to deal with the cold, wind and rain. It was kind of a no brainer, and wouldn’t you know it? The show ended up being a complete success! All the bands had killer sets, both the bands and vendors sold a lot of merch and the turnout was solid. But most importantly, the event was drama free….until now. To my complete lack of surprise, we got a message from the infamous Disgruntled Buffalo Metal Elitist immediately after posting our videos of the BMF bands this morning. Here’s what DBME had to say about BMF 2019, along with his OR HER predictions for Part Two. Buffalo Metal Festival Part Two is scheduled to take place on Saturday September 14th at Woodlawn Beach and Tiki Bar.

DBME: I want an interview.

Mike Marlinski: Okay. About what?

DBME: Buffalo Metal Festival. I want to talk about what happened last night.

MM: Were you there?

DBME: I was there from start to finish. I saw all those dumbasses throwing beach balls around and push moshing to bad death metal and I want to talk about it.

MM: LOL. Well, who am I to turn down the Great DBME? The floor is yours!

DBME: It’s bad enough that every band in Buffalo sucks. But now, every year, there’s a fucking 8 hour festival to remind us of just how bad local metal in this city has gotten. The only good bands on BMF come from out of town, but even they suck because they were dumb enough to play Buffalo Metal Fest in the first place!

MM: Why do you think it’s dumb to play Buffalo Metal Festival? And why do you think every band in Buffalo sucks? Can you be more constructive?

DBME: No. I can’t. Everyone just sucks. There isn’t one interesting band in this whole fucking city. Then all these sweet bands come from out of town to play that shit show and they end up losing their talent because of it. Buffalo’s lack of talent is contagious and now sweet bands like Bravura are catching the 716 disease.

MM: You seriously didn’t even like Bravura?

DBME: I did until they played BMF. Once you come to Buffalo, you turn into a shitty band. It’s a disease dude. If you’re from Buffalo, you suck. If you visit Buffalo, you suck. And don’t get me started on Niagara Falls. It’s only fitting that they had to move the worst show of the year to the only place in this state worse than Buffalo. Niagara Falls smells like my alcoholic dad’s pukey socks. Happy Father’s Day, dad. You drunk piece of shit. Oh, and BMF 2 is supposed to be at the beach in September? Well… NEWS FLASH! Buffalo weather sucks, so that one’s probably getting moved to Chris Gooch’s basement at the last fucking minute.

MM: So you’re honestly saying that Bravura sucks now, just because they played a show in Niagara Falls?

DBME: Can you not fucking read dude? I literally just said that. Being from WNY makes you a fucking loser and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

MM: But wouldn’t that make you a loser too?

DBME: Of course. Why do you think I’m wasting my time talking to you on your stupid metal page? Do you think I’m enjoying myself right now? I’m just so disappointed in the local metal scene, I had to talk about it again.

MM: Since you’re so negative about Buffalo metal, and apparently Niagara Falls as well, what do you think needs to change? Why does every band suck? How could they become better?

DBME: They need to start taking notes from me. I’ve got a band coming out soon. We’re going to turn this stupid city around.

MM: What’s your band called? What do you guys sound like?

DBME: We’re called Disgruntled Buffalo Metal Elitist. We sound like not garbage.

Interview: Joe Cafarella (STEMM)

By Deitz*

If you give the people a reason to forget you, that’s just what they’ll do. Conversely, if you keep giving them a reason NOT to forget you, then you’re onto something.

It’s been 7 years since Joe Cafarella walked out of another sold out stemm show at the Town Ballroom only this time, STEMM was saying “farewell”. Not a week has gone by since that night that he, and the other members of that band haven’t been asked about the band, will they come back, and when! I’ve been one of those people, while I may be friends with the guys in stemm, I wasn’t always, I started off as just a fan. Now, 20 years after I first seen stemm play at a VFW Hall in Niagara Falls, NY, 15 years after becoming actual friends, I had to reach out to Joe for a long overdue interview with The Metal. We are a Buffalo based Webzine for all things heavy after all, why not talk to someone who had their hand firmly in this metal cookie jar for 13 years. Whether you loved them or hated them, you had an opinion, typically a staunch one at that. All in all I think this is an honest and genuine conversation between a couple guys who’ve been friends for 15 years now. This interview is for fans of the band, haters of the band, and most important to me other bands in our scene and worldwide that wanna hear a few tricks of the trade from someone who’s 1. Been in the game for 25 plus years, and 2. Still making a career out of it today. Without further ado:

In December of 1998, a new band emerged from Niagara Falls NY by the name of STEMM. But, before we get to STEMM portion of the interview, I want to begin by asking you about 1990-1992. You had a band that featured future members of STEMM, Mario and Alex by the name of Infestation.

Mike Deitzman: What was the climate like for metal at that time, and why do you think that’s such a revered era now?

Joe Cafarella: Hi Mike! First I want to say thanks for having me for this interview! That is an interesting question in regard to the late 80’s early 90’s Buffalo underground scene.
Looking back to those days, #1 we were all kids fresh out of high school or early 20’s so EVERYTHING was fresh and exciting for many of us on the scene.

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The 1 thing that I can say about that era is it was an “underground scene” and it flourished. It was not uncommon to have a death metal band & a hardcore band on the same show. There was a TON of variety from thrash, death metal, black metal, grindcore, punk and hardcore. The genres were not segregated, everyone supported each other for the most part and the scene flourished. you could go to a show on a Wednesday night and there could be 150 to 300 kids at a show. Because of the variety of genres, we were exposed to different styles of metal that we never heard of before and became fans and learned that there are many flavors in the world of extreme underground music.

Infestation, while I enjoyed the demo when I heard it, and from all accounts were very well received at that time, did have a short shelf life, as did a lot of bands in what I refer to as the “demo” era. What were some of the more noteworthy things you accomplished in the Infestation days? I think a lot of old school fans will remember, (and this is a few years before my time, but the stories stand the test of time for me) that while we did have some noteworthy bands and figures in the Buffalo death metal scene go on to make great impact, like Cannibal, like Baphomet, like Glen and the Deicide guys, but every band had followings, every band did some cool things in their short time period.

Ironically, some of my best friends to this day came from that Buffalo Underground Scene. In fact, just about every member of STEMM past & present came form an extreme band from those days. Our original drummer (Jimi Penque) was in Atrosity, Zero Tolerance & Despair, Our original bassist (Russ Martin) was in Grotesque Infection & Organism, our drummer (Danno Nelligan) in STEMM who replaced Jimi was in Eternal Torment & helped out plenty of bands in need of a drummer, TJ Frost (STEMM vocalist) was the vocalist for Baphomet, and as you mentioned in your 1st question, Alex & Mario were in Infestation with me leading up to STEMM.

As far as accomplishments, as I mentioned, we were kids. EVERYTHING was exciting to us from our 1st demo to our 1st show. It was rewarding to be on stage and have the crowd go crazy to what you were doing.

The Buffalo Underground Scene was one big dysfunctional family but we all looked out for each other. Back then, Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse bassist) would be at EVERY show he could make when he wasn’t on tour until the day Corpse moved to Florida. The same for TJ and Dave when they were in Baphomet. They would come to the shows and mosh with the fans. Even though Cannibal Corpse and Baphomet were leading the way and putting Buffalo, NY on the map, they never treated you as if they were beneath you. Usually after a show, we all wound up at some party together.

Fast forward to late 1998 and you emerge again in a new… nu? (laughs) metal band called STEMM. This was an enormous departure in almost every possible way from Infestation.
What was the catalyst in the creation of STEMM?

Well, believe it or not… Toward the end of Infestation, I was singing for a rock band similar to Alice in Chains. This was a brand new thing for me as I went from being a death metal vocalist to learning how to sing melodically… That band didn’t go to far and we started doing cover music to make money. People started freaking out as I became a better singer when we did Alice in Chains covers but people really went crazy when we did some Pearl Jam covers…

At this point, Pearl Jam had just put out their 2nd album “VS” and were hitting that “Untouchable” status. So we capitalized on that and started a Tribute to Pearl Jam called “Mookie Blaylock” (I’ll let you all do the homework on why we named the band) and I played the part of “Eddie Cheddar” for 3 years…. We packed bars and night clubs for 3 years as big as 1000 room venues but, I was not content. The money was great…But I REALLY wanted to play original music again. I wanted to play heavy again but not extreme metal. After learning how to sing melodically for 4 years, I wanted to keep things heavy but commercial to some extent.

I was and still am a HUGE fan of Max Cavalera / Soulfly, Rage Against The Machine, Korn and the Deftones. We tried our best to keep the spectrum wide open in STEMM. We could obviously play as heavy as we wanted, but we threw in the Nu-Metal tones.

MD: Almost right off the bat, you guys skyrocket into the top band in the area. Your fans, the “Stemmlins” are fiercely loyal, and legitimately have stayed loyal through all iterations of the band and even still today, almost 7 years since the final show.

What are some of the things you did in the early days, to build up your following?

JC: I wouldn’t say that we skyrocketed into anything. We struggled but we were determined. We learned a lot from the extreme metal days to playing in a HUGE money making cover band about the business but most importantly, how to draw and KEEP a fan base… We experimented quite a bit with business / promotional tactics in STEMM.
I personally am guilty of having a sick infatuation with the music industry. I was always reading books about promotion and reading interviews about how other bands promoted themselves and tried to use as many tactics as our financial budget could afford. We started off in STEMM making a 2 song demo. We printed 200 demo tapes, 1000 promo stickers, made a website, printed thousands of flyers and hit the shows, taped our flyers on every telephone pole and any local business that would allow us to put a flyer in their window. We gave everything away for free to ANYONE who complimented our shows. We would stand outside of high school events like a football game and hand out flyers and demos. We believed that we needed to have an image….Or a brand… We did whatever it took to get our name out… We used to have a joke that we should see neighborhood dogs with STEMM flyer taped around it.

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MD: Subsequently, what advice can you give a band today, especially from your area, since a lot of Buffalo bands read this zine, on how to build and MAINTAIN their audience?

JC: You know, that is really a loaded question. The HONEST truth is, do you want to do this as a hobby or do you want to go for it all? It should be fun no matter which path you choose be it hobby or career path.

So much has changed since STEMM began in 1998 to present day with the music industry – The best advice I can give is, learn as much as you can about the business…. The music industry changes these days, something that worked 6 months ago is now obsolete. I say music industry because, if you are band and you make an album, make merchandise to sell and book a show, you now just walked into the world of the music industry. In this day and age, it is all about understanding social media, how to promote and understand the language that is used in social media. (Something you promote on Facebook does not get the same response on Twitter and there are reasons for that)…. We used to walk the streets handing out and hanging flyers….With social media, you can sit on your smart phone or computer and that is WAY MORE EFFECTIVE promoting your band than passing out a paper flyer if you take the time to learn. I know musicians who are very successful financially as an independent and never played 1 show.

It’s all about being personable, being approachable be it in person or online and actually talking to your potential fans. This is not an easy business. It can be a fun business. But YOU have to put in the time and effort. There is no such thing as “artist development” in this day and age of the music industry.

MD: What were the differences in booking out of town shows, dating back to the Infestation days, through the Stemm days?

JC: Not much! (laughs) We traded shows once we knew we had a solid following. We tried to trade shows with bands that also had a solid following in their hometown.

MD: What were some of your favorite moments in Stemm?

JC: Oh man… I wouldn’t even know when to stop! (laughs) Hearing our music to this day on UFC / Ultimate Fighting Championship TV shows is just as exciting now as the 1st day we watched it happen…. I have shared the stage with bands that inspired me as a writer from Sevendust to meeting Max Cavalera and playing with Soulfly nearly every time they passed through our region…. Touring with Chimaira on multiple occasions…. Playing the Whisky A-Go-Go in Hollywood, California was a big deal to me. To be able to stand on the same stage that launched The Doors, Van Halen, Guns n Roses, Motley Crue and so many other major acts was incredible to me. The MOST incredible thing was, having so many people support us as a band. To this day, we treat our fans like family.

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MD: You created one of the more iconic songs in the history of sports with “Face The Pain”. Tell us about the story of that song and how it came to be that you became affiliated with the UFC. What are some of the things you’ve gotten out of that partnership?

JC: Our relationship with the UFC was pure luck / right place / right time. A very good friend of mine (Guitarist Bruce Wojick) who at the time was in a huge rock band KLEAR from Niagara Falls asked me for a STEMM promo package. He had a friendship with someone originally from Buffalo, NY now working for the UFC who wanted to consider Bruce’s music for the UFC but, it was not heavy enough. All Bruce did was look out for another band that he respected and sent our music to the UFC. 2 weeks later, they were using our songs on ESPN “As Real As It Gets” TV show.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship used 25+ STEMM songs since 2002.
The STEMM song “Face the Pain” was written for UFC 40 Ken Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz… It was at this point where Dana White himself called me during a conference call saying “I would love a song that would set the tone for this fight. If you could write it in the mindset of a fighter in the octagon, that would be a plus for this event!”

The UFC was poised to put their brand on the map with this fight. We demoed 3 songs that week, 1 song being “Face the Pain” and 1 week later, the UFC producers flew to Buffalo, NY to record “Face the Pain” at Select Sound Studios.

It wasn’t until 1 year later, after testing several songs that the UFC producers called us to say “Congratulations! Face the Pain is the official theme song for the Ultimate Fighting Championship”

I am proud and shocked to say that the UFC still uses STEMM songs here in 2019…. None of this would have happened had my friend Bruce not looked out for us. It was a very selfless act on his part.

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MD: December 1st, 2012. You performed at the Town Ballroom, in what was dubbed the Farewell Show. I know that wasn’t something you took lightly, did you honestly feel like there wasn’t much more the band could accomplish?

How important was it for that final show to bring out every era of the band, from the Louie days, to the TJ and Steve days all the way through the final 2 albums, Bloodscent and Crossroads?

JC: We were in a bad spot during that time. The tech boom in the music industry pretty much disarmed us from everything that was working for us over the years and we were burned out, not willing to learn something new.

I was upset that we were going to play our final show. 14 years of hard work and we were spinning our wheels. If we were going to play a “final show” I wanted to honor our fans who stood by our side during the line up changes over the years. It was fun having Louis & TJ on stage together as we moved through the history of the band and the perfect way to put the band into a wall at 120mph.

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MD: From 1998-2012 STEMM was almost like a freight train in terms of how busy it kept you, every single day for over 13 years you were doing something involving the band, be it press, recording, promoting events, local shows, regional shows, touring… something was going on every single day, my question is, what was your mindset in the days following that farewell show? How difficult was it separating “Joe” from “Joe from Stemm” ?

JC: It was a great run. A TON of ups and downs over the years with line up changes but, our fans ALWAYS kept us going when we felt we could go no longer. It might sound a bit deranged but… there’s nothing quite like having a shit day and getting a message from a fan that our music saved their life… It kinda makes my problems go away when I read some of the things fans have said to us.

After the show, I was relieved to a point. I truly feel like we accomplished everything we wanted to do artistically. We were bummed out that we could not take things to a higher level. We managed ourselves, booked ourselves, promoted ourselves… There was countless nights when I woke up with my face on my computer keyboard because I worked until I passed out.

After the last show, it was a sense of sadness but relief for me. I had the option to try something new….

MD: Tell me about what you’ve been doing in the years post Stemm? I know you have been keeping pretty busy on a farm with your wife and the family, but you never did stop writing music, what have you been up to, and how has that been for you?

JC: Well, my wife and I have a 50 acre farm. We have chickens, goats, 1 pig as a little homestead / hobby farm. My wife runs a horse rehome / rescue operation where we take in horses that people have fell on hard times with. We find the horses a new home, some are in bad health or in need of training. We give the horses what they need and work with them to find them a new home. We work with the SPCA as well. What we do keeps these horses form going to auction. Not many people down on their luck with their horse understand that a horse going to auction usually winds up in the hands of a “Kill Buyer” which means, the horse is not going to a new home. It’s going to slaughter. These horses have A LOT of life in them. So we take the horses, work with them and find them good homes…. That is mainly my wife’s passion. I am a good ground person but she is the “horse whisperer” (laughs)

Since STEMM, I took the advice of the UFC producers to keep writing music. I started a company called “Seeing Red Music” http://www.seeingredmusic.com where I am hired to write music for production libraries and they place my music on TV, Film and Video Games. My drummer Danny from STEMM and a few other friends work together to get these albums out for the music production libraries.

MD: About a year or so ago, the Stemm social media pages became super active, and you began reposting all your music on various platforms (spotify, Apple Music, YouTube etc) and there’s been some interesting comments about the possibility of NEW music on the way. Is that the case? When will we see some new music from STEMM?

JC: Since Danny & I have been working together doing production music, he would flip out saying I was throwing away good future STEMM songs. Our partner / co-writer / producer is Mike Hatalak who also played guitar for Trustkill Records Buffalo, NY act “IT DIES TODAY”…. Mike has been pushing for a new STEMM album for a few years…. We have been having so much fun writing, we decided to put out some new STEMM material. Problem is, we have been SO BUSY writing for these libraries, there is only so much that we can do. We do plan on having some new music out in 2019. I do not know how much material, but it will be coming 😉

MD: If I don’t ask this next question Stemm fans will crucify me… (you knew it was coming, you probably have 15 notifications right now asking the same question)
Do you even have the slightest interest in getting back on that stage as STEMM even one more time?

JC: I do miss playing. I miss seeing my friends…. I miss the fans… I won;t say that a STEMM show is a possibility just yet. We all have different lives, we don’t live in the same area / state anymore, no rehearsal space, no van & trailer and we all have jobs. So playing a STEMM show will be something that we all would have to agree to and commit to. The #1 thing we KNOW we can do is write and record music together and with the power of today’s technology, we do not have to be in a room together to make new music. Our goal is to get new music out and cross the bridge of other possibilities when we get there.

MD: You do consultations with bands now, and I think as someone who’s toured as much as you, had the success you did, that you have invaluable information you can give in a one on one consultation, but generally speaking what are some things you can suggest to bands out there today reading this, the ones that are working hard in the studio on shows, can do to elevate their current position to the next level and beyond?

JC: I’ve been in the game for 20+ years. Everyday, I feel like a new student in the music industry. I am still a fan of music. You can never stop learning. In todays world, the last thing you want or need is a record deal.

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The tools are now available to ALL OF US to be successful as an independent artist. You have to put the time in as a writer, an artist and to learn about promotion and the power of social media. It can be done. I am living proof. It’s not a get rich quick deal. But it can be done. As a music consultant, I like to talk to a client and have them talk to me about some of their goals so I can help set them up with a plan.

There’s a saying in today’s music industry “If you are not willing to put the time in to learn and work to get your music out to the masses, please get the fuck out of the way for the people who are.”

The philosophy is really that simple….

MD: There’s a lot more I can ask, but hopefully we can do a Round 2, soon. I’ll just leave you with this final question…

What’s been your motivation in all these years you’ve been an active musician? What’s kept the fires lit so to speak?

JC: I have learned that I have a skill as a songwriter. No different than being an electrician or plumber. At least for now, I have a skill that people appreciate and that to me is a blessing to be able to write music and call it your job. To this day, my wife watches me squirm when people ask what I do for a living and I say “I am a songwriter” because it doesn’t feel real to me… I was a truck driver for 21 years while I was trying to also be a professional musician.

I ALWAYS have a song in my head. I have met so many incredible writers and producers in this business, my work is on hip hop, country, rock and metal.

Writing music keeps me sane, (I think) and out of therapy…

Ultimately, I don’t take orders well from anyone… Unless your name is Mrs Cafarella 😉

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MD: Thank you, my guy! Thank you for the interview, thank you for the music, and thank you for all the behind the scenes shit you helped me out with over the years as I figure out my own road in this business. Here’s a link to most places you can find Joe or STEMM at on social media:

Infestation demo on YouTube:

SEEING RED MUSIC http://www.seeingredmusic.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JoeCafarellaMusic
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jodahc
Twitter: @jodahc
Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodahc
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/jodahc

STEMM:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/STEMMBAND

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/stemmband
Twitter – @5temm
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/stemmtech
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/stemmband

Interview: Brian Platter (The Last Reign)

We put out a fake interview with The Last Reign on April Fool’s Day to be huge smartasses about the comeback. Granted, busting balls is a time honored tradition in Buffalo metal, things are now getting serious. The time for The Last Reign to shine again has come and the official return show is this Saturday at Mohawk Place. Here’s what band founder and spearhead Brian Platter had to say about things as they stand now…

Mike Marlinski: The Last Reign is the only band in Buffalo history to successfully fuse both modern and classic melodic death metal influences. Which MDM guitarists have influenced your writing the most and what do you think is the most defining MDM album in your music library?

Brian Platter: Although I’m influenced greatly by the ‘big 4’ top Gothenburg bands, I always return to Jesper Stromblad. Between early In Flames and Dimension Zero, he’s created some of my favorite riffs/melodies of all time. It’s very difficult to call out the most defining album in my library, but if I had to choose one, it would be ‘Whoracle’ by In Flames. Although ‘Colony’ is a close second. I’m sure you’re beginning to see a pattern. Haha.

MM: June 8th roughly marks two years since the last TLR show. During that time, in what ways has your songwriting approach changed or evolved?

BP: With The Last Reign, it’s a very strange balance because I’m evolving as a songwriter, but also trying to create as much of a throwback to the original Gothenburg sound as I can. I’m definitely not trying to recreate the wheel by any means, but trying to revive something that I feel has been lost for nearly 20 years.

MM: Since you’re now working with an entire new lineup, what are some of the immediate changes or improvements to the TLR formula that you’ve noticed, if any?

BP: Everyone is still fairly new, so there hasn’t been any drastic changes in either direction as of yet. This is especially the case because most of the second album has been written already so the guys are still learning the material. Once that is done, I’ll be able to get a better feel for how things will evolve. I am excited for the future and to see what may come together for the third album.

MM: What’s your view on the current worldwide MDM scene? Who are some newer bands or albums from just the last couple years you enjoy?

BP: As stated in a previous answer, modern Melodic Death Metal is not the same as it used to be. There are still decent bands, but there is not a single one that really sounds like what bands like In Flames were doing back in the 90s. Mors Principium Est is probably one of the best modern melodic death bands out there right now though. There are a few classic ones still releasing decent albums like The Crown and Carnal Forge. However, all of those bands are more on the thrashy side. One band that I would like to give a shout out to is Undrask from Greensboro, NC. We played with them on tour a couple years back and they are one of the few that recognize the drought of that classic sound.

MM: In regards to the comeback show, the revival of TLR has been compared by some to be like the Bills winning the Super Bowl. What’s your battle plan for the comeback set, without giving too much away?

BP: (Laughs) Maybe we can get the venue changed to New Era field! Although there is plenty of new material to share, I want to give people a decent balance for the comeback show. We’ll be playing a few new songs as well as some old favorites. I think the crowd will be happy.

MM: Now that the full lineup has been revealed, what’s your general opinion on what the masses can expect from the new and improved TLR?

BP: The best I can hope for is that people enjoy this incarnation of the band just as much as the original lineup. TLR always had a solid amount of energy and stage presence, but we’re turning it up to 11 this time around.

MM: When you decided to start up a new band 4 years back, was melodic death metal your immediate intention, or is that just sort of what happened?

BP: A classic sounding Melodic Death Metal band has been something I’ve wanted to do ever since the days of my first metal band, From beyond, back in 2003. There may have been some elements in those songs, but I was definitely not good/objective enough to write that style of music properly. Sadly it took me nearly 15 years to get there, but at least I’m here now. When I set out to start a new band, I did not necessarily have a specific genre in mind. After some discussion with a drummer I was in contact with, it was just a natural progression from there and I began writing. Most of our debut, ‘Expulsion from Paradise,’ was written in under 6 months from then. It seems I had some pent up melodic death metal creativity lingering, haha.

MM: Are the gears turning for another TLR road excursion?

BP: There are definitely plans to tour in the future. Our immediate plans are to do weekend excursions at least through the sophomore album release which will hopefully be out by Spring 2020 and then hit a lengthier tour after that.

MM: How many guitars are you up to now? 16?

BP: I currently have 5 electric guitars and 1 acoustic. Although I’ve been drooling over this one Kiesel guitar, so we’ll see. (laughs).

MM: Name the first MDM song you can recall hearing.

BP: There was a pre-Whoracle version of In Flames’s ‘Episode 666’ on the Death…Is Just the Beginning Vol 4 compilation and I was ‘hooked’ from there.

The Last Reign is:

Adam Svennson – Vocals

Brian Platter – Lead Guitar

Vince Mayer – Rhythm Guitar

Seth Welty- Bass

Colin Marmion – Drums

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Interview Series: Robert Bourque of Music Matters Part Two

Let’s just keep right on going, folks…

Mike Marlinski: The internet has really crippled the selling of music, obviously, but how would you rate how business has been at the store, all things considered?

Robert Bourque: The internet has really crippled the selling of music, obviously, but how would you rate how business has been at the store, all things considered?     Well, so far I haven’t gotten any shut off notices from the electric company or anything so I guess that’s good-right? I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I just keep plugging away and that’s pretty much 7 days a week. I was once told by another local business owner that they wanted to run their business, not let their business run them which is a nice concept, but she only lasted about 3 years, so… My work is seemingly never ever done as i deal in thousands and thousands of items. I also try to get out on my days “off” to track new things down for the store but i still look forward to coming to work everyday. Sure there are bad days and I joke that I should have paid attention better in school. If you ever go to a rummage sale or garage sale and stuff like that, the CD and record section always seems to be the most packed so there’s another sign, or so I feel anyways. I agree, you can’t beat free on the internet. I could literally charge a penny per item and some/alot of people would say “Why would I give you a penny when I can get it for free on the net.” These are just a couple of examples of course. I try not to worry about that side of it. Granted, if i went months and months without a sale or customer, I guess I’d have to rethink things!

MM: Aside from Pixie and myself, is it safe to say you’ve got a handful of regulars who are in and out of the store?

RB: Jesus Mike, I’d hope so!

MM: Who or what is your strongest connection to the Buffalo metal scene?

RB: I’d have to say the people or bands that come into my store. I hear things here and there, but heavy metal sales and people are just a percentage of my business. I also deal in other genres plus movies, games, etc.

MM: Name some of your favorite modern metal bands and talk about why you think they stand out among the pack? (2000’s era)

RB: Oh man, many. I’d say those early Earthless albums are stellar. I never get sick of hearing those. I would say I also listen to some of the CDs I purchased from Patrick Pagan from his distro/label Butchered Records. Two bands off the top of my head are Omnihility and Dismemberment. I think Jim Nickles label Vile Records has a really strong catalog. One band Jim signed is Deserter whom I believe are out of Belgium. Highly anticipating more from them. And of course one of Mr. Murray’s many projects, Cain. I break those Cds and records out when I’m in the mood for sure. These are just a couple of examples, of course. There are many.

MM: Of all the metal subgenres, what is your least favorite?

RB: Is rap metal still a thing? If not, Nu Metal is probably the next despised, generally speaking.

Greg DiPasquale: What’d you think of Crimson Glory’s Transcendence album?

RB:  If you guys actually want to check out a podcast called Ridiculous Rock Records Review episode #69, you’ll hear my dumb voice and thoughts on it. I did it with a customer of mine Dan, but since it is in fact episode 69, I should have done it with Eareckson.

MM: You’re also a big collector of DVDs, VHS tapes and a few formats of video games. It goes beyond music at Music Matters, so talk about your big loves in film and TV as well.

RB: Well, we don’t sell VHS at all. What those are on the wall are DVD TV boxsets. I get that a lot. I haven’t played a video game since the 80’s honestly. I’m not a movie hater or anything, but I don’t watch too much TV. I basically use the TV to fall asleep. I stopped going to the theater for movies. I’d pretty much fall asleep in the darkened theater most of the time.

MM: What’s your policy on local bands selling their albums at the store?

RB: Bring 2 or 3 copies in, contact information and what the price is. If/when I sell them, I give the band whatever the price is. This is one practice that only a few bands have done over the years. Sidenote: Aspired Infliction Cds recently made it to the store for sale!

Greg DiPasquale-  What are your thoughts on Winger concerts?

RB: Oh Greg, that information is permanently sealed! Let’s just say Beavis and Butt-head didn’t kill their career, I did.

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