Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez of Exmortus “Expect your mind to be blown. To melt from all the shredding.”

Los Angeles based neo-classical shredders Exmortus, founded by guitarist and vocalist Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez, have racked up achievement after achievement. From appearing in a national TV commercial for Virgin Mobile to being played constantly on Sirius XM’s Liquid Metal, from appearing on the first Ozzfest meets Knotfest in San Bernadino to touring with heroes Children of Bodom and Marty Friedman. However it’s probably the band’s 5th album, The Sound of Steel, that Conan will be most proud of. It’s his most personal album, an album forged together after a bit of a setback but also one that given his upbringing could never have not seen the light of day.

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Jason Keyser of Origin reminisces about the Albany hardcore/metal scene and hammers in the pit.

In the video below, Jason Keyser of technical death metal giants ORIGIN talks old Albany hardcore/metal scene, new technology, downside of streaming, love of Brujeria and more Aldo Guzman of CAPITAL CHAOS TV. ORIGIN hit the road this April with MORBID ANGEL. The band is touring in support of their latest album Unparalleled Universe. Remaing dates are as follows..

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Aggressor of Aura Noir on Spelling and Gaffer Tape

A band geared towards thrash connoisseurs with active minds and mean spirits, Aura Noir stand at the fore of metal’s definitive genre in an age where the underground is utterly besodden with bands. These Norwegian thrash stalwarts don’t so much tread the line between savagery and sophistication as stomp upon it, showering dirt in the faces of lesser acts with each smoldering crater of an album. Continue reading

Gravehill Drummer Thorgrimm Interviewed!

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people playing musical instruments, people on stage, night and guitar

Southern California death metal veterans Gravehill are set to return with their fourth album (first since 2014’s Death Curse) The Unchaste, the Wicked, & the Profane.

The album sees Corpse relinquishing the bass to take over on vocals, replacing long-time Gravehill growler Abominator. In addition to the switch on vocals, the band welcomes back former guitarist Bodybag Bob (ex-Exhumed) into the fold but this time he’s on bass with Eldehelm taking over on guitar. The changes result in the band’s best and most focused album to date. On The Unchaste, the Wicked, & the Profane Gravehill continues with their “no gimmicks” brand of death metal with promises only to lay waste to your speakers. Album artwork by Mark Riddick.

How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal?

THORGRIMM – I’d have both my older Sister and her former Husband to thank for that. Dave (ex-bro in-law) is a Hard Rock/Metal Fan and he has had a huge admiration for Black Sabbath, Van Halen, AC/DC, Rush and Led Zeppelin to name a few. Especially drummers and especially Peart and Bonham. His taste made a lasting impression on me.

Were you forced to go to church as a youth, if so, did you sing in the choir or participate in some other ways?

THORGRIMM – My family was never religious or religious minded. My Mother has always had a need for theology but didn’t find her brand of choice till I was a teenager. At that point I was a “devout” Atheist. In fact I remember questioning theology when I was 6, and learning what Atheism was from childhood friends and their family not long after.

What was the local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?

THORGRIMM – Growing up in SoCal, most gigs were in Los Angeles. Orange County and The Inland Empire (where I grew up) sucked. I always look back at that time with so much awe. Everything was new, had a future, was so small yet growing. In the mid to late 80s was my high school era, so locally my favorites were HELLRAZOR, DISASTER AREA, SADISTIC INTENT, RECIPIENTS OF DEATH, BLIND ASSASSIN, DEAD & BLOATED, and SINISTER FIEND. By the time the 90s rolled around and I myself had a band (MORGION) their were so so many great bands… MINDROT, PHOBIA, CARCINOGEN, EXCRUCIATING TERROR, NAUSEA, DYSTOPIA, CATALEPSY, ENTETY, RISE, etc…

The new album “The Unchaste, The Profane & The Wicked” comes out on Dark Descent Records in March, can you describe the album title, the relationship with Dark Descent Records and their input into Gravehill music and product? Were any bonus track recorded for other markets?

THORGRIMM – The title and the cover are self explanatory. We wanted to highlight the base of human debauchery. In my opinion, it’s as vile as we could think of. Mark Riddick of course is a genius artist worth noting. DARK DESCENT provides no input, we provide them with our vision and they spread it to the masses. We provided no additional music this time. Just what is released in this outing.

How has the songwriting and recording process changed from Deathcurse? Does everyone write their own parts? Where did you record the new album? Do you write specifically for an album within a time frame or collect riffs and ideas over time?

THORGRIMM – A lot changed on this album for us. We had a major line-up change. 2 major players on the last album left. CC & Abominator. I took the reigns and had a specific set of ideas on structure and riffs. Both Eldehelm (guitars) and Hell Messiah (guitars) churned out riffs until I got what I was looking for structure wise. We also had input from Bodybag (bass) as well as a song he and I wrote together in 2012′ “The Unchaste”. Corpse handled the majority of the lyrics. An old friend of mine had pro-tools and he also wrote some riffs for “The Wicked” which he and I wrote together. We used his pro-tools set up to demo and work/rework the songs till the band was happy with them. This actually cut the writing time in half, we had 90% of the album conceived in 6 months.

What brought about the split with long time vocalist Mike Abominator? You have another Exhumed member Bodybag Bob returning to Gravehill, how did this come about? Have you heard Death Revenge yet, do you think it’s Exhumed’s best work yet?

THORGRIMM – Abominator wanted to pursue what became the band RUIN. In my opinion, I think both our visions changed as well as our priorities. I really feel we are both happier in our current pursuits, but we’ll always be friends and support each others music. There was no animosity or ill-will. As far as Bodybag, he was a free agent, we wanted him back on guitar but he wanted to play bass, so Jason relinquished bass to him to concentrate on just vocals. It really wasn’t a thought out or planned option. Square Peg – Square Hole. I have heard EXHUMED’s “DEATH REVENGE”. It sounds more focused than their past albums, a very strong album imo. It’s great to hear Ross again and point in fact, I like having Bob back in GRAVEHILL. So yeah, thanks Harv!

Which song or songs on the new album are your favorites? Was the amazing artwork created specifically for the title of the new album?

THORGRIMM – My favorite track(s) are THE PROFANE and SABBATIC WHORE. Yes, the cover was specifically designed with the title, absolutely.

How familiar are you with Impiety and Divine Eve who you will be touring with in April? What can expect from Gravehill on this upcoming tour?

THORGRIMM – We toured with IMPIETY in 2011′, so am very familiar with them. In my opinion they are very pro, very easy to get along with, great band. My history with DIVINE EVE goes back to the early 90’s. I’ve been a fan/friend since I heard the “THE LAST OF THE SUNSET FADED” demo. In fact, in 1995 I played drums on what would of been the DE debut album. The band had a falling out, so Xan (guitars/vocals) enlisted me and we recorded the CRIMSON RELIC – PURGATORY’S REIGN album for Radiation Records (Nuclear Blast). All these years later DARK DESCENT is re-releasing this album and as fate would have it, DIVINE EVE recruited me to be their live drummer, so I will be playing drums for both GRAVEHILL & DIVINE EVE. So a reunion of sorts? You can expect all three bands to deliver the goods, quite literally.

If you were to do a covers album, which artists and songs would you cover?

THORGRIMM – (Forced upon GRAVEHILL to play list…)

VENOM – Cry Wolf

JUDAS PRIEST – Jawbreaker

ROSE TATTOO – All the Lessons

RAINBOW – Stargazer

SLAYER – Die By The sword

WHITESNAKE – Love Ain’t No Stranger

FASTWAY – Trick or Treat

SCORPIONS – Animal Magnetism

CELTIC FROST – Cherry Orchards

MOTORHEAD – No Class

 

Song to be played at your funeral and 3 albums to take to your grave?

THORGRIMM – Funeral Song – “Death Will Be My Bride” by BRENDAN PERRY – Album “Eye of the Hunter”

3 Albums –

FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM – The Nephilim

VENOM – Black Metal

LED ZEPPELIN – III

Retched Founder David DerMinasian Interrogated

 

Originally from Fresno Ca. Retched has a classic hard metal sound with strong Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath roots. The band was formed in 1988 but soon after that around the end of the same year broke up due to very bad management.This new digital remastered version is now re-released to the world after years of many set backs.

How did you first get into music and who turned you on to rock and metal?

I got into music when I was a small boy I loved the guitar and always gravitated to the heavy guitar music. As I grew up my older sisters and brothers and friends turned me on to rock and metal.

How did you become a guitarist and a vocalist? Do you play any other instruments?

I became a guitarist and vocalist at an early age about ten years old is when I got my first real guitar my first guitar was just a stick that I would pretend to play when I was a kid. I also play bass and harmonica and some drums.

Were you forced to go to church as a youth, if so were you an altar boy or participate in some other ways?

When I was a kid we weren’t really forced to go but in the same time it was what we did on Sundays till I got older. Yes I did kind of get not so much forced but pressured into singing with the quire.

What was the local scene like in the beginning? Was there a particular band you aspired to be like? Favorite local bands back then? Favorite local bands now?

I always favored Iron Maiden in the early days of my playing. The local scene then was awesome back then and is also awesome now, My favorite local band back in the day was a band called Betrayel from Fresno ca. and my favorite local band now is WARBINGER and EXMORTUS from Los Angeles Ca. U.S.A.

How did the band form and how did the band name come about? How did the band meet and how long did it take to finalize the line up? How stable is the line up?

I formed this project 6 years ago it was difficult because I never had steady work to back up my musical plans I was doing it solo but last year I brought David Ezelle in to play the drums and sing. We met through my sister I was staying at my sisters a while and David Ezelle and his wife are the managers there so we met up and started playing and he decided to stick with it so far it is only us two guys and I’m taking care of all the other instruments and sharing vocals. After our new release is out we will be looking for a bass player so we can start playing live shows.

The Overlord Messiah came out in 2016, what has the reaction been like to it? Self produced and self released?

The Overlord Messiah was released towards the end of 2016 in November the reaction to our EP has been greatly surprising since it was first recorded in the year 1988 and it’s actually 30 years old but was never released till lately because we had a lot of problems with the management back then and finally disbanded. It was produced in a recording studio called Maximus Media Inc. in Fresno Ca. by Jeff Hall and when I released it, Studio Aspiotis in Athens Greece remastered it. The good thing was no matter how old it was it was still viable and originally I just put it on band camp just to see what would happen not even knowing there is a big revival in Thrash Metal and Old School metal so just by chance I feel into perfect timing, and that never happens in my world usually I’m either much too late or too early. So the even more amazing thing is we are currently growing our fan base a little each day and establishing a presence as we are working on our new Thrash Metal Full length album hoping to be released by November or December 2018 latter this year. No name yet but I can tell you it will be a pure in your face Thrash Metal album from the Old School.

So how was producing and putting this record together different than what you have done previously? What kind of obstacles did you have to overcome to get it out?

Well this was a whole new scenario on account of the digital age and me coming back to the scene after thirty years, it was like being frozen in time and coming back to life having to learn all over again, not that I Know a lot now but I learned a few things about how things work a little bit. The first obstacle was re mastering this EP. It was hell for our engineer George Aspiotis from Studio Aspiotis in Athens Greece he spent two whole months dissecting the 4th generation copy of the original cassette tape that was thirty years old. Wow He kicked ass on that man you can’t really tell. It sounds fresh he did a hell of a job I don’t know anyone who would do that but George Aspiotis did because he wanted to preserve our sound and because he is a fan of the Old School Metal. Mean while back at the ranch the label and I are trying to make my choice of artwork actually work with their artists you know this pictures too small and this picture is not the right file type and all this other crap that has to be of certain formats and pixel counts in order to be compatible with all the facets of the digital age. Then we had the same thing go on with our logo its simple but effective you can read it without having to stare at it for 30 minutes. These were all a crash course in how to produce your album. It was insane but I learned what to do now more or less.

What is the writing process like for you? How do you pick what you want to keep and release and what gets tossed aside?

The writing process is crazy for me I come up with new music all the time but it’s putting words to my music that stumps me a lot. Actually I’m getting better at writing lyrics these days but that has always been my weak point because I find it hard to put words into my rhythms it takes a lot of effort. I wish it was as easy for me as coming up with music I can randomly spit out riffs all day that are worth keeping but the lyrics they are the hard part for me. It is getting better though. So nothing really gets thrown away except the lyrics most of the time.

How soon can we expect new RETCHED music? Will it be a continuation of the last album? Will you be releasing it on cassette and vinyl? Do you own a cassette player, are cassettes silly? Will you be recording cover songs for the new album?

We are shooting for November or December of 2018 to release a pure in your face Thrash Metal album at least 10 tracks if it takes us longer that it just means it will be done when we are ready. This new upcoming release will not be anything like the first release or a continuation. I can tell you we will continue to be OLD SCHOOL THRASH METAL with all the modern bells and whistles for sure. We will continue to release our media on CD’s and Vinyl’s as we are already doing that now but, not cassettes although cassettes are ok I just think it better to stick with CD and Vinyl; although I do own a special Cassette deck to convert the cassettes I do have into digital or dub down copies. That’s what I used to get this last release out to the world literally. We will definitely not do any cover songs on this next record.

What other bands are you in?

I can only dedicate to one band and that’s RETCHED because I only have time for one and I still don’t have enough time at least how I would like it If I had my way I would spend 10 – 12 hours a day on my material if I could but I still have to work a job for a living or else nothing will work out because it takes money and nothing in this business is cheap.

Has there come a time when drugs and alcohol were beneficial to the band?

Never if anything they were a deterrent for us. To become successful in anything you do you need to have a clear focus.

What can we expect from a live RETCHED show?

Energy excitement and interaction from the band.

Is there any overall story or concept behind “The Overlord Messiah”?

Basically we were not intending to be conceptual but if you could put a label on it you might liken it to Dungeons and Dragons kind of a feel.

How would you best describe your sound?

The best way to describe “The Overlord Messiah” is it has older Iron Maiden / Black Sabbath and Judas Priest type sounds but it’s really up to the listener I’ve heard some interesting feedback from other record reviews which I never expected to hear although there hasn’t been any negative feedback yet that I have seen but like the reviewers have mentioned other sounds that I don’t really hear. I always say it’s up to the listeners because they actually pick up on many different things in a matter of opinion.

What are the pros and cons of pre ticket sales and pay to play?

I haven’t experienced that yet but I think as long as they keep the records straight and give the people what they pay for it will work out the problem comes like I’ve seen when someone go online and they get the VIP package then they get there and don’t end up with half the stuff they were promised.

Do you still buy CD’s or mostly use streaming sites? Which do you use?

I use both CD’s and iTunes and Band Camp downloads. You can’t beat a nicely recorded CD they are loud and clear the way they were meant to be heard, but equally I love the down loads too because I can keep my whole record collection in my phone and conveniently access it while I’m out and about.

What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?

I buy a lot of Thrash Metal and Blues too I love the Blues too.

Who have been some of your favorite bands you’ve hung out with and shared the stage with?

My favorite band I’ve hung out with is Warbringer they are one of my newest influences as well.

What kind of references or influences do take from other mediums? Is there any particular book, or other artist that you are inspired by?

My influences are Iron Maiden / Judas Priest / Testament / Violence / Municipal Waste / Warbringer / Iron Reagon / Death Angel / Goat Whore / and many more.

How much time do you spend on social media a day? Which do you hate the most but can’t live without? Which do you like and why?

I hated spending hours to connect and promote and I still hate it but it’s much easier now because we are known around the world in small circles now also I learned a few tricks on how to use it but I still only know a little. As far as promotions go: Social Media sucks!!!! Oh did I say that out loud?!! Any way yeah you’re better off using other real promotional campaigns like Radios because without radios who’s going to hear your stuff? After a while you get air play just let it keep playing and that’s how you will get more fans and also at your gigs too not to mention you will get royalties for being on the air. I guess the one that I won’t do without is the radios that’s your only real hope and it’s worth the money you pay to get hooked up also compared to how many thousands of useless promotions on social media I’d rather spend my hard earned dollars on real effective ways to be heard.

Could you please explain the title “BLACK LEATHER AND ME”?

Yes the Song is about the old metal days when it was all about spikes and studded gauntlets and the song is about a band any metal band in the world and the feeling we all get when we are almost ready to hit the stage you feel the power surging in the atmosphere all around you the excitement from the crowd and the raw power of the amplifiers pounding your chest. Raw energy!!!!!!!

Are there any political or social issues hidden in RETCHED songs?

No we are not a political band we’ll leave all that to the politicians. Social Issues there could be but not on our last release.

Who does the song writing for the band? Where is the inspiration found?

I write all the music and lyrics too along with drummer David Ezelle who will be helping me with lyrics. The inspiration is found all around us.

What is the writing process like and the putting of songs in order?

The process is a never ending juggling match of words and phrases and making them break down into the timing of the song and how say them sometimes I have a perfect word or sentence then I have to change it to make it work like in other words use a different word that has the same meaning. It’s always hard for me. I wish it was as easy for me to write lyrics as it is to write music then I’d be much further ahead. As far as the order of tracks I usually wait till the last track is done then I feel them out I may want to start out with hard hitting song or gradually work up to it but I do like putting my favorite tracks up last as a closing tune.

What keeps you passionate about RETCHED and Heavy Metal after all these years?

Well we aren’t going away anytime soon I’m going to thrash like it’s 1986 for all my days till my body won’t let me play anymore but I plan to be thrashing even at 90 years old. What keeps me going is the fact that I will keep producing music no matter what and releasing it what is happening now is the beginning you see there’s a lot left to do but we are almost there to the point where. It don’t matter if we get to actually live off our music, although that’s the goal the truth of the matter is the fact that we may never get to do that it depends on many factors one is the public one is the degree in which we choose to promote among about a thousand other factors, In short I’ll choose: Just to keep it real.

What are your top 5 albums of 2017?

Warbringer: “Woe To The Vanquished” / Dust Bolt / Municipal Waste / Exodus / Testament: “Brotherhood Of The Snake”

What endorsements do you have and what endorsements do you still want?

At this time we don’t have the luxury of any endorsements but I’d like to have Peavey Amplifiers / Zilgian / Sure / Dean Markley guitar strings / Mackey / Jackson Guitars / ESP guitars / Celestion Speakers/ Tama Drums

Bands you would love to tour with?

I would like to tour with Warbringer I’ve met most of them and they are all a good bunch of folks.

What does Metal mean to you?

Metal is something I can’t describe but its good medicine to me.

 

Panorama Vocalist Christian Palin Interrogated

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In 2008 the Swiss guitarist, Sammy Lasagni (Gods of Silence, ex Kirk, ex Godiva), met the Uruguay born singer Christian Palin (Random Eyes, ex Adagio) for the first time when Godiva, supported the band Adagio – fronted by Christian. The chemistry between the two was immediately obvious so they decided that they would, at some point in time, try to make music together. The two kept in contact but the years plodded along until 2015 when a certain long telephone call on a cold winter’s day changed everything. Right then and there they decided to get to work. They began writing songs and in record time 15 new songs were born. They decided to work with Dennis Ward (Unisonic, Pink Cream 69) as a producer. The guys soon after met with Dennis and introduced their songs. Dennis was genuinely impressed. So impressed that he agreed to work with them and joined the band not only as producer, but as a bass player too. The guys completed their line-up with Finnish guitarist, Ben Varon (formerly of Amoral and Grease Helmet) and Swiss drummer Philipp Eichenberger (Gods of Silence, ex Kirk). Panorama was born!

How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto metal?

Well, my life saga with music started when i was a child, it was Kiss. I was staring at the tv when Detroit Rock City video was going on. I was checking the guys singing loud and clear, I fell in love with the band. Just minutes later I went out for a walk in the yard of my country house, to my surprise, a lightning bolt fell 50 meters from an electricity pole. Lets say that was my sign to be chose in the world of rock.

How did you become a singer and are you proficient in any other instruments?

I was 3 years old when I first touched the piano, Singing started after 18 year old, yeah, I started with drums for 12 years then by a coincidence of life I started to sing just out of the blue. Lets say its a long story, but everything is clear. I was born to rock the hell out. I am a music teacher, my instruments : Piano , guitar, bass and drums .

What was the local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite bands now?

I started my professional work with Random Eyes in the year 2003 in Helsinki Finland. I had the opportunity to play with Sentenced before the band was gone for good. We were welcome from the start, things you don’t see with every band, we had many friends who helped us in the the beginning, in getting concerts, tours, interviews, etc. I guess some people are chosen to be in the new era of rock´ n roll history. I never tried to copy any band, any style. I had always the red line of the situation which is to be unique in all you do. My fav bands today still Kiss, Mötley Crue, Ratt, Def Leppard. Then some new bands like Shinedown, Slipknot, of course Ozzy, Dio, Rush, Boston.

How much time do you spend on social media a day? Which do you hate the most but can’t live without?

I know social media has developed a reputation by some for being a passing marketing interest, and therefore, an unprofitable one, but in the end the statistics, however, illustrate a different picture. Social media marketing can improve your business you can increased brand recognition, brand loyalty, higher conversion rates, but remember not every interaction with your brand results in a conversion, but every positive interaction increases the likelihood of an eventual conversion.
Still I want you to know that your personal life and how you start your day its more important than your brands and aspirations. start the day meditating before making any commitment,start the day with peace, and remember to breathe 😉

Has there been times when drugs and alcohol were beneficial to the band?

I have one rule in my band and its no drugs but pro life. Its ok some beers in time to time, but even that must be under control. You control your life.

You recently hooked up with Rock Of Angel Records what are your expectations with them going forward?

Yes, Panorama our new band and baby got signed by Roar. I’m used to not expect greatness but with patience to conquer people to listen to our music. I try to avoid the all hat, no cattle situation. Roar is doing already good work for the band.

Favorite songs on the new album and why?

Heart Has Been Broken, and Highest Mountain. Why? well I just like them.

Are their bonus tracks recorded for the Japanese market?

We are like the magician, he always has something in his pocket.

How does the songwriting and recording process with Panorama differ from your experience with previous bands?

When going in this record we wanted to make the music that we wanted to hear as fans of metal. We said what are the songs we want to hear if we weren’t in Panorama and that’s the kind of stuff we started putting together with Sammy Lasagni. We wrote the music together, think about that, we did 4 songs in one weekend…we had the mood and the fire. We didn’t think people are going to hate this stuff’, it’s just a matter of making what we loved and what we wanted to make. we are here to rock, thats all.

Are there any political or social issues hidden in the songs from your soon to released debut album?

No politics, but momentum of the world today. Of course life struggles and stress release tracks. We want positivity and goodtime. We are not here to kill you with words or “hidden” conspiracy theories.

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What kind of references or influences do you take from other mediums? Is there any particular book, or other artists that you are inspired by?

I inspire myself with Bob Proctor, I admired people who were great speakers. (Bob Proctor is widely regarded as one of the living masters and teachers of the Law of Attraction and has worked in the area of mind potential for over 40 Years. He is the best-selling author of You Were Born Rich, and has transformed the lives of millions through his books, seminars, courses, and personal coaching.) I like to read books of Chinese nutrition and oriental medicine.

What can we expect from Panorama in 2018?

My wish would be to tour for this new album, everything depends on how the disc sells. The music industry has changed a lot, but people are still people, mortal humans. Therefore my expectations are good, and I know that our music will reach many hearts. we did a great job. Everyone says that life is difficult, I tell you that life was always difficult before, the same as today. Everything depends on how you stand on your battlefield, if you are ready to be a winner. To not look back and look at what is ahead. Be the protagonist in your own journey, be the hero in your city when there are no people to help the fallen. Raise the mood of your country. this is my expectation with the band.

Can we expect to hear any cover songs live and what are they?

I think Panorama is not going to play covers, but the bands are going to play our songs very soon all over the world. If you know the fictional character of Rocky Balboa, I think I have one inside. That’s why I’m so affirmative in my convictions.

Song to be played at your funeral or cremation and 3 albums to take to your grave?

I Don’t Want To Change The World – Ozzy Osbourne the song is very true, you can not change the world much, but you can change the thinking of man.

Do you read reviews, metal magazines such as Decibel or visit metal blogs like Blabbermouth or Brave Words for the latest updates on what they they have to offer?

Yes Blubblermouth.

Final thoughts, words of wisdom?

All around the world, we need someone like you to break the silence, bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, open the prison to those who are bound.

PANORAMA is:
Christian Palin – Vocals (Random Eyes, ex Adagio)
Dennis Ward – Bass (Unisonic, Pink Cream 69)
Sammy Lasagni – Guitars (Gods of Silence, ex Kirk, ex Godiva)
Ben Varon – Guitars (Amoral, ex Grease Helmet)
Philipp Eichenberger – Drums (Gods of Silence, ex Kirk)

 

SALEMS LOTT lead guitarist Jett Black grilled.

Salems Lott is an American Shock Metal band formed in late 2013 in Hollywood, California. They are known for their high-energy and crowd pumping stage performances and an explosive new sound that captures the audience from start to finish. The band has played infamous Hollywood stages such as a sold-out show at The Roxy Theatre, a sold-out show at The House Of Blues, The Whisky A Go Go, SIR Studios and many more. The band is quickly climbing the ranks of the Los Angeles Rock Scene and is one of the most prominent live acts to see in Los Angeles.

How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal?

I mostly started just listening to video game music like Zelda, FF, DBZ etc. I didn’t like rock/metal because I assumed the pop-punk, post-alternative, emo and death/screamo metal bands of the time were indicative of all rock/metal. The video game music at the time was very well composed, with strong classical influence, and a lot of them were using guitar driven rock in their OSTs as well. It was very melodic; so I found that attractive, whereas the genres I mentioned above sounded whiny, annoying, boring or indiscernible to me.

For rock/metal, the gateway artists that got me into the genre would be Michael Jackson and a little later AC/DC. I was listening to MJ at the same time as the video game stuff and classical music; but EVH’s guitar in “Beat It” definitely sparked something as well as Angus Young’s “Thunderstuck” intro which really pushed my infatuation with rock into high gear.

How did you become a guitarist and are you proficient in any other instruments ?

I’d say “Thunderstruck” was one of those big moments that drove my inspiration, in addition to what I described above. Through ACDC I started finding other bands and more technical guitarists which helped proliferate and continue my interest in the instrument.

I consider classical guitar a different instrument. Ultimately, classical guitar, piano, bass and vocals. I can play some other instruments like the trumpet and flutes but I wouldn’t add them to the list.

What was the local scene in Hollywood, California like in the beginning? Was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?

There is no scene in Hollywood. It’s basically anything goes with most opting to play the stereotypical genres (post-grunge, screamo, death metal). The young bands are usually not that serious, garage band level that still live with their parents even in their 20s and run off to do ego-driven tours with a following of 5 people and then quit 9 months later. The old bands just keep doing the same pay to play circuit desperately soliciting their day-job colleagues and friends to pay for a ticket to come see their show for the 100th time and are clearly 25 years too old to still be failing at the club circuit. We don’t and didn’t aspire to be anything like any of the local bands here. In fact, we purposely set out to be the complete opposite.

Has there been times when drugs and alcohol were beneficial to the band.

I don’t particularly care for either but they have their uses at times.

How would you best describe your sound?

Familiar but new. Heavy but melodic. Hook-oriented but aggressive.

Is doing pre-sales the same thing as pay to play?

In a sense, yes. There’s a benefit and pitfall. More control is given to the band, but at the same time, more responsibility. Bands are basically 100% their own promoters and counting on the venue or any ‘promoter’ to do anything is just naïve. It’s a complicated issue. P2p is necessary in its own way but also a catalyst in the local scene’s demise. Currently, the ends don’t justify the means but inevitably the live scene’s death creates new and exciting avenues for bands and artists to utilize.

What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?

Lol! I think it was a Pokémon cd. But ftw, that first opening theme in Pokémon was one rockin’ tune. No regrets. Buying more than once perhaps Invasion from Ratt and ’87 from Whitesnake.

DIY forever or signing with a label at first opportunity?

We’ve had offers but it depends on the offer. It would have to be a label with some balls, as most are too cautious to approach us since they can’t sell us to their pre-packaged highly specific dwindling sub-genre audience. You’ve got the Core labels, alt rock labels, the edgy ‘real’ metal labels, the nostalgia labels: all of which are divided and sub-genre specific and none of which we fit in with.

A lot of the industry and labels just really hate us and what we represent which is simply put “the return of the Rockstar”. It tells me we’re on the right path since everything they’re putting out is so generic and mediocre that it insights the same response. It seems the fans are also tired of the same mid-90s styles of rock and metal on perpetual repeat since the sales and attendance seem to reflect that.

A lot of people who currently listen to hip hop or edm could easily find a voice in rock music if it provided something intriguing for them. Unfortunately, so many modern bands are a repetitive snooze-fest that everyone tends to write off all new rock music or bands as “sucking major ass”. I think we’re on the precipice of seeing a big intriguing industry change so I’m keen to see where the industry goes.

Whats the biggest show you have played so far and do you still get nervous before a gig?

Not sure, either HOB or Rocklahoma. The last House of Blues show was great. It felt like the audience and the band were connected in one unified animalistic ritual.

Is commercial rock radio dead?

Yes. A lot of people are sensitive to this type of topic and tend to close their eyes and ears to reality and all empirical evidence. It’s a complicated topic, too long for me to explain here, but doing your own research leads to an obvious conclusion. Anecdotally, I can say every time I get into an Uber if I don’t feel like driving, 99.9% of the time the only thing you hear on the radio is the same regurgitated generic trash called pop, edm and hip hop (same with stores, restaurants, and bars). The radio stations are owned by the same few companies so they use radio as one giant music fast-food advertisement. That’s why you’ll hear the same soulless song come on 3-4 times in the same day.

Then you’ve got rock radio. If you happen to put on a rock radio station, they play the same 10 bands over and over. They’re basically like the classical music channel with an eternal boner and inflated reverence for the same 10 ‘classic rock’ bands and have no ability to regenerate with the youth. Essentially, it’s not completely their fault, that’s what the people want to hear and what keeps their shrinking audience tuning in time after time. Not to mention, the whole industry has an unspoken checklist of ‘respected’ vs ‘disrespected’ bands and genres. But all in all, it needs to die to give way to a new system so I actually see this as a positive.

Favorite songs on the new finished album and why?

It constantly changes but I’d say right now “Royal Desperado” and “Shattered to Pieces”. Both are very different from what we’ve done, with the former being very groove driven and the ladder being a lot softer and exposed.

Out of all your songs which one touches you the most when you perform it?

Based on live performances I’d say “No Choice to Love”. Ironically, it tends to touch me in places it shouldn’t. 😀

Are there any political or social issues hidden in Salems Lott songs ?

We don’t have any hidden political messages in any of our songs. We’re not a political band; but in the present day, given every facet of life is distorted and politicized, it’s impossible to comment on social issues/behavior, philosophy and culture without it being misconstrued as political. I don’t care for any ideology; I find them all dangerously narrow-minded, one sided and collectivizing. I’m against using art to inject a purposeful political propaganda agenda and I dislike shallow thinking, mob mentalities and the demonization of nuanced and abstract thought or criticism.

I write songs to figure out myself, ask questions and grow. When I see glaringly obvious hypocrisies in social behavior, modern culture or altruistic philosophies, I feel compelled to point out the BS at times. Especially since most rock/metal bands and other genre artists discussing these topics currently just repeat the same dogmatic Marxist pseudo-intellectual propaganda for the sake of virtue-signaling and fitting in comfortably with industry-accepted opinion.

Because of our current culture’s obsession with identity politics: where everyone’s politics are attached to their identity and everyone’s identity is attached to their politics, it seems any balanced criticism is taken as a political statement or taking sides. There’s really no room for nuanced thinking or balance, which seems ironically and eerily similar to religious dogma and zealotry. If there are any hidden themes, I find the values of individualism, revived profound masculinity, self-responsibility, aggression, free speech and real non-ironized rebellion are recurring naturally. Mostly, they are recurring themes because those values have tragically become so disparaged and lost.

What was the process of putting the songs in order?

It’s based on the themes of each song and giving it a flow like a story. I like to imagine myself as the listener and envision myself making the journey though the music. In this instance, it felt right to shock the listener into a state of attention with something like Enigma opening. An abrupt awakening or a distortion of sleeping consciousness. With part 2, it will have a different approach.

What endorsements do you have and what endorsements do you still want?

I’m all for more free stuff. Send some more my way, I won’t stop anyone.

Bands you would love to tour with and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate?

I’d rather the band headline, there’s not really anyone out there that’s young that I’d care to tour with. In addition, I find I have a similar perspective to Eddie Van Halen: I don’t get star struck or really care to meet certain musicians. I respect their work and craft but I don’t have a fanboy attitude towards my influences.

Song to be played at your funeral and 3 albums to take to your grave?

No funeral. I’d prefer to have my body cremated and tossed into the ocean.

As far as 3 albums, I can only decide on two. “Mask of Morality” and as a guitar player “Invasion Of Your Privacy”. The 3rd is a tossup between many so it’s too hard to decide.

Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?

I think a lot of what I said above might be misconstrued as negativity. I don’t actually view the death of rock/metal in its traditional forms of consumption as a bad thing. I believe a lot of the old formulas, and over-played ‘modern’ genres need to burn to ash so that a new phoenix can reemerge from the flames. But in order to do so, new bands need to adapt to a harsher environment, take bigger risks and fans need to actually give new bands a shot rather than sticking with the same old ‘legendary’ bands.

Make something of your own generation that you are proud of, stop parroting typical industry bias with this whole passive aggressive attitude that everything remotely daring is ‘cheesy’, ‘edgy’ or ‘cringy’, and have a band that represents you and your generation rather than safely worshipping bands that are 30-40+ years your senior. Rock/metal needs to come back as real cultural force again, not an underground irrelevant elitist circle-jerk.