Your new album “The World Away” is rocking the charts, can you tell us more about it? What it represents for you?
BRIAN: Absolutely. “The World Away” is the middle piece of a loose concept trilogy of the human experience from conception through death and what may or may not happen after.
Our last release, “Masque of the Red Death”, was more upbeat, hopeful, where this record is a much more bleak affair running the gamut from drug addiction and traitors, to severe depression, isolation, and literal Hell.
Personally, it’s been a hell of a past year and a half internally, and we’re 3 years older and (hopefully) wiser. It’s detailing a darker period for us. Art imitating life.
Who produced it? What was the best suggestion you received from them?
BRIAN: The record was produced by Charlie Bellmore (Toxic Holocaust, Kingdom of Sorrow, Jasta, Kings and Liars) and co-produced by Nicholas T. Rage and myself.
This is the second time we’ve worked with Nick, and the first time with Charlie. Nick is a whiz with engineering, mixing and is a great ear for catching and adding things.
Charlie helped us RUN the ship and craft the songs, refine our sound, give us an aim and pull it all together in the studio until it’s all mixed. He’s the extra brain we needed to push us to the next level of sound achievement we were hoping to get.
The brilliant Chris “Zeuss” Harris (Rob Zombie, Queensryche, Revocation), took it from there, mastering it, and made it bigger and more sprawling than we thought it could be. We feel it’s easily our best record yet.
How do you usually write your songs?
BRIAN: There’s no set formula other or guideline other than music comes first as that approach we’ve found personally allows the most room for the vocal to reach maximum potential.
Generally, on any given song, Pete (drums) and I will have either a full song brought to each other that the other helps refine and we all work on it as a band until it feels finished.
Afterwards, I’ll sit with the song and let the melodies dig into my head until I get a vocal melody that matches or compliments and a mood.
Once that happens, a topic generally comes pretty quickly and we’re off to the races. In the case of “The World Away”, with Charlie producing, some songs stemmed from demos we originally had saved and separated from “Masque”, as they were darker and didn’t fit the vibe, yet we really wanted to use them.
We re-worked the material, and Charlie came in and shook things up, helping shorten and arrange; breeding vibrant ideas.
This lead to us adding another 4 full songs on our own throughout the record on the spot, in the studio and at rehearsal around recording sessions. It was a long but incredibly rewarding process spanning late 2015 – 2016.
Which is the best verse you’ve ever written?
BRIAN: That’s tough. I’d have to say the best from a lyrical standpoint I
s from one of the simplest songs we have, “In The Valley Of Lies”, track 13 off “The World Away”. It has a poetic feel to it that reminds me of a southern gothic like the Coen Brothers ‘Blood Simple’ film. Just in mood and what it pictures of love gone horribly wrong:
“There she walks; in whispered a melody.
Not one I’d heard… Felt in fever dreams.
The times we have spent within our own heads,
Grasping at straws to try and unbend
Fiery wills from a fate worse than death.
Deception won out, ‘fore the table was set
As we walk through the doorway through the Valley of Lies.
You won’t find an answer…
Just secrets and pride.”
Your favorite song of all time?
BRIAN: Man, you’re hitting me with impossible ones! Haha.
Generally, if I had a metaphorical gun to the head for favorite song of all time, it’d be a tossup between “Time” by Pink Floyd and “The Stranger” by Billy Joel.
Those two give such a resonating view on life and love respectively; they’re immortal to me. Favorite metal song of all time – “Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Iron Maiden.
So epic and masterful. Favorite song of ours? “Where The Sun Sleeps” from ‘The World Away’. It’s just a powerful tune that I don’t get sick of hearing, and that’s hard to do when it’s your own stuff and you hear/play it all the time.
Do you remember the day you wrote “The Devil In Your Eyes”?
BRIAN: Actually, yes, very much so.
Originally the music was 11 minutes long and it was a huge epic tune written in one day by myself and Chris, our former guitarist and co-founder.
We cut it down to under 5 minutes and Charlie helped pare it down to be exactly what it needed to be. Lyrically, it was done all in one shot in about 30 minutes a day after we finalized the music.
There were tensions in the band at the time that led to a few departures. It’s a song about someone close to you revealing their true colors and being able to withstand the chaos and turmoil they bring when they try and tear you down.
What is the most important thing in music?
BRIAN: Honesty – heart, mind and soul. Melody.
All are crucial. If there’s no feeling, it isn’t real, and you can spot it from miles away.
Tell us more about the song “Hope”.
BRIAN: “Hope” is an anti-suicide song, urging people to not be afraid or too prideful to ask for help. It’s inspired by a real life friend who committed suicide in 2013.
This was the rare case where the words came first in the form of a poem, and were rewritten to be more descriptive of an inside view of someone who suffers from Major Depressive Disorder.
Myself among other friends and family have suffered from this illness and understand how many people on a daily basis deal with this disease.
“Hope” is our way of saying you’re never alone.
Are you currently on tour?
BRIAN: We are currently on break right now until September, then we are headed out to do a few festivals, shoot a couple more videos, and looking at touring in the late fall and next year.
What inspired the song “The Bargain”?
BRIAN: “The Bargain” is about the dichotomy between the healing nature of pharmaceutical psych drugs, and the damage they can cause when taken advantage of or are given out unnecessarily.
It’s an odd choice one has to make to swallow a narcotic for anxiety to stop a massive panic attack; that in turn over time can shorten your life or get you addicted to the point where you are a broken shell of yourself. I’ve seen both sides. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.