Friday, November 22, 2013

Storm King Interview


1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
We just spent the better part of the last year writing, recording and preparing the new album for release, which just happened. We're playing four regional shows to support that release, then taking some time off through the holidays. Early in 2014, there's going to be a new video we've been working on, and probably another round or two of shows in the winter/spring. We'll see what happens.


2. How would you describe the musical sound of the new album and also how does it differ from previous releases?

Stylistically, it's the same Storm King formula we've been delivering for years, we're just better at it now. The overall idea has always been to play heavy metal, but never limit ourselves to a specific sub-genre. It's not like we go out of our way to incorporate different styles, that's just what comes out when we jam and we embrace it instead of ever saying, "no, we can't play THAT kind of metal, we're a thrash band" or a death metal band, or a doom band, etc. I have eclectic tastes, so does everyone else in the band, and even though we'd probably have a better shot at "making it" if we watered down our sound so people would know which little category to place us in, it's just not how any of us really want to be represented. This band is more like a portfolio of our abilities, so we always seem to push the envelope a little more all the time. 

As for the over all sound of the record, there were very specific traits we were going for, which I think we achieved. We wanted it to sound aggressive and raw, but razor sharp with good production quality at the same time. To be able to listen to it and tell each instrument apart was important, that's something I feel gets left out too often in metal, everyone's "wall of noise" gets in the way of a good sounding master. Bass is usually the first instrument to get buried in the mix, and as an old bass player myself and as a fan of bass in general, that's just bullshit. Easier said than done, but it really makes a difference for the style of music we play. 

In the end, I really just wanted to be able to listen to this record next to some of the bigger production albums that have inspired me in my lifetime and have it hold it's own, which I think it does. From all the bands I've ever been in or worked with, this is the first record to ever come out 100% sounding, looking and feeling the way I wanted it to. There is no drunken sloppiness, half-assed efforts, mistakes due to running out of time or money, none of that. If people don't like this album, it will be a matter of personal preference and/or opinion, not because it falls short in any way of it's vision. After 20 some years playing music, that's fucking awesome to be able to say.


3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the new release?

I was going through a lot of struggle in my personal life when we started the writing process (marriage was on the rocks, parenthood is really hard, just quit drinking, etc), and I was having a real hard time with lyrics, so I decided to pick a theme and it became a concept album of sorts. A tale of self-discovery through darkness, heartbreak, despair, ugliness, desolation and regret. I suppose it's borderline emo if you want to get right down to it, but in the same way so many of my biggest influences are. Going all the way back to my teen years, listening to Nine Inch Nails and Rollins Band, on up to recent years with bands like Opeth and Triptykon, all my favorites have put a lot of focus on real feelings, and always the dark painful ones. I've always wanted an album like that, but for some reason, I guess I've been too afraid to do it in fear of how people might label it. Something in me snapped over this last couple years and I finally quit caring about what other people think and decided to make the record for myself, regardless. It wasn't a far stretch from previous material, but it was definitely honed in on and refined this time around to make something really heart wrenching. I've always said that my favorite music is the stuff that can hurt your feelings. Well, here you go.

That being said, it was hard for me to write some of these songs. I don't think I write like a lot of people write. I know a lot of songwriters who sit down and pen a song at a time with consistent, linear thought. That's not how I do it at all. My lyrics are typically jotted down, 1-2 lines or maybe a verse at a time, with no real attention paid to how it'll be when it's done. It isn't until much later, if at all, I compile all the little snippets and pocket notes to make sort of a lyric scrapbook out of them. Sometimes, as was the case on this album, I'll go back to things I may have written 15 or 20 years ago. Songs end up like Frankenstein's monster - a piece from here, a piece from there... If I'm lucky, everything makes sense when it's strung together, but I'll admit that it hasn't always (Keeper of Shadows from our first record, for example, made no sense at all). There was a lot of extra time spent on this album though, so it's pretty cohesive.


4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name Storm King?

There's a beer called Storm King from Victory Brewing Company. When the band started out, practice was sort of secondary to just hanging out and enjoying cigars and craft beers together, a tradition that has pretty much stuck to this day. I liked the name Angels of Enmity for a minute, but it didn't seem right, so we made it our first album title instead. During discussions, we were drinking a case of the stout and smoking CAO MX2s. Dark and heavy. I think it was me who looked over at a table of empties and said, "How about Storm King?" It just seemed to fit.


5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

We've played our share of bigger shows with bigger bands at bigger venues to boost our rockstar-like egos, but our best shows have always been the smaller, more intimate ones. I for one hate the spotlight, it makes me uncomfortable and awkward, so I think my delivery as a frontman lacks something. I just don't have the kind of confidence a lot of the great frontmen have that enables them to own a larger audience and keep them captivated. I'll come right out and admit that, it's cool. And we hardly ever play live or practice anyhow, so I'm sure that shows at times. But our smaller shows, the ones that are primarily made up of our own crew, the comfort level rises and we can really set it off. I'm anxious to see what happens coming up though. A lot has changed in us as a unit lately, we're stronger somehow, so that's a new and interesting twist.


6. Do you have any touring or show plans for the new release?

See question #1.


7. The new album had a Faith No More cover, what was the decision behind doing one of their songs as a cover tune?
It was kind of a last minute decision. We were playing Surprise! years ago in practice, but never incorporated it into our set and it got lost for a while. Faith No More is a huge influence of mine, as they are for a lot of people, and this song in particular really fits our style. We've done a cover song every time we've entered the studio, just because -- Seasons in the Abyss, Nervous Breakdown, Critical Mass -- usually it's for a B-side or a comp or something, nothing too serious. But this time we wanted/needed another track for the album, so it went right on the album.


8. The new album came out on The Innervenus Music Collective, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

The website says it best... 
"Innervenus is a collective of artists and musicians, based in Pittsburgh, PA. Established in 2001 by Scott & Kimee Massie, with an ever rEvolving list of cohorts, we strive to work with like minds in putting out records, booking shows, advertising, creating merch, spreading the good word and achieving common goals. We are a 99.9% D.I.Y. operation, family owned and orchestrated.
Thank you for your support."


9. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to the newer music by fans of extreme metal?

The album hasn't been out long enough to really gauge that, but response so far has been pretty good all around, from what I've seen anyhow.


10. Are there any other musical projects that the band members are involved with besides this band?

Currently, Andy & Mark are both in the hardcore/beatdown/death metal band, Enemy Mind (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Enemy-Mind/263989220299830), Mark is also in the punk/grind/suicidal hardcore band, Complete Failure (http://comfail.bandcamp.com/), and I oversee all the music and assemble BLACK YO)))GA mixes with Chad Hammitt (http://blackyoga.blogspot.com/).


11. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

Nothing would surprise me at this point. I'd love to introduce an electronic element, but I don't want to interfere with our chemistry. It'll probably remain the same non-formula, but bigger and (hopefully) better.


12. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Each and every one of us is all over the place with what we listen to and what influences us. And the youngest of us is 30, so we've been around a while to really experience a lot of different genres and trends. We sit down before or after practice, or at a bar or some type of gathering mid-week, and we talk about the new albums we got, thumb through the latest issue of Decibel, grab the keyboard and queue up whatever has been inspiring us on Spotify. Sometimes it's Ishan, sometimes it's Rush, sometimes it's Locrian... then we go jam, and while I'm trying to go into the next song, the guys decide it's time to drop the entire Reign In Blood album instead. Today I listened to the new Eminem album. You just never know.


13. Outside of music what are some of your interests?

Legos, semi-healthy food, yo)))ga, the Regular Show and fucking. I also like coffee.


14. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

Thank you.

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