Enjoy an older interview we did with Cristina Scabbia.
I can’t seem to find out how Lacuna Coil was signed to a record; would you be able to explain that to me, please?
We signed a deal with Century Media in 1997, right before we recorded our first EP “Lacuna coil” released in 1998.
I understand Lacuna Coil is recording another album to be released next year; would you care to tell the fans some information of it?
We are still collecting stuff and ideas. It would be premature to talk about the new album as the material might take a different direction as we work on it. We’d like to make it heavier than the precious records, even if ballads will be there anyway and more dark and obscure. We’ll see…
I am still very curious, even though this is an old subject the title 1:19; I would really like to know what it is about; my friends and I think it has to do with suicide; would you be able to elaborate?
We will NEVER answer this question… the meaning of the title is known to the band only, sorry!
As we all know the name Lacuna Coil means empty spiral, but how exactly was that name conceived?
Empty Spiral is actually not the accurate translation. Lacuna is an Italian/Latin word that means something like “lack” but not really. Something like an empty space. Coil means spiral. From there the translation into “Empty Spiral” that is also the name of our official fan club.
Seeing as how you have toured with Lacuna Coil all over the world, is there one place that you have been that you would like to see more, or one place you have not toured that you would like to?
From China to Thailand, from Philippines to Hawaii and so many other places. we are gonna get the chance to go to India in October and I can’t wait!!!
What are certain routines you perform to get ready for a concert?
Some little ceremonies are secret inside the band, like things we say and we do, so I can’t tell you… But we mostly warm up and chill out before the party starts!
What do you think fame has done for you in a positive way? That is, since you are a huge name in metal, what does that do for you as a person?
Beside having pictures in magazines and videos on tv, which is obviously cool, my life didn’t really change. I think it is really important to keep your feet on the ground and to be “normal” as much as you can.
Is there anything that we, the fans, do not know about you? Fears, hidden talents, etc.?
I am a little afraid of spiders, even if I love them, and I’m really good in preparing handmade pasta and focaccia!
When you are on stage performing in front of thousands of people, do you ever get nervous that you may mess up a song or do something embarrassing?
Not really about messing up a song, cause it’s all about fun on stage.What I am afraid of is when I am sick for whatever reason and my voice is not as good as it should be. I don’t want to disappoint our fans coming to a gig to see us.
The name for your latest album “Shallow Life” how exactly did the band come up with that?
We thought about the fact that in our society it happens very often that image is all and everything is really superficial. But there are also “superficial” things that are beneficial, like a football match to watch, or shopping with friends… the most important thing is to find the right balance and to stand up when important things are coming up in your life.
Where do you draw your inspiration for singing; that is to say, who are your role models or what bands do you take after for your inspiration?
I don’t really have role models or bands who are examples to follow, but I take inspiration from different things and people. My family, people who believe in their potential. Rock.
I saw you and Tarja Turunen at the download festival one time way back, before then did you ever know her or how was that?
We met way before Download. She’s cool!
As I am sure you have heard, you have a beautiful voice; I was wondering what your vocal range is; also, what type of vocals are you most prominent for?
I have no idea, I never took lessons and I don’t really care about my vocal range, I only hope to give emotion to people who listen.
What was the weirdest thing you have experienced by a fan as a celebrity? That is, what is the weirdest thing a fan has done or given you?
Uhm…we signed weird stuff, like a toilet cover… I once signed a dildo.I see a lot of tattoos related to us. Recently a guy got my signature tattooed on his arm… It happened before but that one was reeeeeaaally big!!!!!!!
Last question; because of the fame, do you sometimes wish you weren’t as famous as you are, because of the crazy fans and lack of privacy, or, do you not regret any of it?
I’m not Madonna, so I can have all the privacy I want, haha! The fact is… is so easy to not to be in the spot if you want to. I pretty much hide myself in public, I’m not an attention freak, at all.
Interviews by Joshua Becker & Jessica Clingempeel | 1.31.2012
This is the written version of our phone interview with Cristina Scabbia back in 2012. Enjoy an older interview! \,,/ —Jess
Jess: How is the tour going so far?
“Oh, it’s going amazing. Today we are taking a break out of Gigantour because we have a headliner show in Baltimore, so now we’re just like chilling out on the bus, you know waiting for tonight. It’s going great, though I mean Gigantour is phenomenal, everything’s good, we’re getting along in an amazing way with all the others, and the venues are pretty packed, and the reactions are great, so its all good.”
Josh: Did you guys run into any problems when recording “Dark Adrenaline”?
“No, not at all. No problems at all, because the material was ready, so all we had to do was to go into the studio and record it, but we didn’t get any type of problem, everything went super smooth.”
Jess: How about funny moments while recording? Any embarrassing stories to share?
“Nothing too crazy because when we are in the studio we’re extremely focused and super scared because we want everything to be perfect. So, nothing super-funny or super-crazy, but, actually there was something weird about the studio in L.A. –-because the album is being recorded in-between Milano, our hometown, and all the vocals and the arrangements have been done L.A.—There was a rumor that there was a ghost in the studio, and we kind of experienced some weird moments where things were kind of moving by themselves, or a chair in a spot would move in a different spot without anybody touching it, so, that was kind of weird.”
Josh: Did the record company pressure you at all when recording to get it done quicker?
“No, not really, actually we finished the recording around September, and the album was supposed to be out in October, but then the label decided to postpone the release of the album. Just because they wanted to have more time to set up all the marketing plan—you know, all the labels and stuff. So we didn’t get any type of pressure, we just took our time to write the songs the way we wanted to, and we entered a studio when we felt ready—obviously you have to set yourself up to sort of a deadline, because you can’t really wait centuries to release an album, you know, you just have to be spontaneous in song writing, and don’t go over it too much, because then you risk to change it too much, and to make it look not spontaneous at all, and that’s really important for us.”
Jess: Were there any songs written that you wanted on the album, but did not make it there?
“We had a couple of songs that are going to make it in special editions that are not in the album, and then we wrote a lot of stuff, but we left it behind because we usually don’t write complete songs and then we cut them out of the bunch of choices, but if we feel that a song has not the right potential to our ears, we just leave it behind. So, we wrote a lot of stuff, but not complete songs that we just like didn’t include in any version of the album.”
Josh: How is the album compared to “Shallow Life”?
“It’s different, just, the whole production is different, there are more solos’ its definitely darker, the vibe is way darker than probably any other albums we did. Its heavier—the sound coming form the original session is big compared to “Shallow Life” and the other albums, and its something curious because we used the same producer, and we talked with Don a lot because we were sure about the sort of direction that at least the production should have with this album, and we’re really happy about the results of the album. For the first time, the mixing and the mastering had been done in Italy from Italian people, so, its sort of like an American-Italian production.”
Jess: What was the reason for making “Dark Adrenaline” darker than the previous albums?
“I think its due to the fact that in-between “Shallow Life” and the beginning of the song writing for “Dark Adrenaline” some members of the band went through kind of bad and sad moments in life, and as soon as we are inspired by life, itself everything we’re living, everything we’re experiencing goes straight to the song writing, as well as songs, and, sometimes in an unconscious way. When we finish the old record, and we started to listen to it we just immediately noticed that it was different from the previous albums we did, and something that we noticed, even after—since we started to let other people to listen to “Dark Adrenaline” before the album was being released, we just noticed that it was a combination in between the very old stuff, the very old Lacuna Coil stuff and the new stuff. This is kind of curious because it came out in a very natural way. We didn’t plan it, but it’s cool because its still part of us; we didn’t really change as people, Its still us, and its still what’s inside of us—it came out all of a sudden.”
Josh: What creative elements helped determine the direction of “Dark Adrenaline”?
“We didn’t really know, we never really know, because in the past we used to just meet in the practice room, and create everything form zero there. Now, things have changed, because even if you’re in a different house, even if you’re far from the other members of the band you can still record ideas on a phone, or tablet, or on your computer, and to collect a lot of ideas that you can then present to the other members of the band, and, sometimes you can just send files—you don’t even need to be in the same place. So, we collected a lot of stuff separately and we gave it all to Marco, which is our bass player and the main composer of the music’ he put everything together, and as soon as we had sort of demos of the music ready, Andrea and I started to go to Marco’s house where he has his own studio, and we just started to throw ideas for vocals and to present the ideas we had about some ideas of vocals that weren’t based on any music that the other guys wrote. So, we put everything together and we started to go to the practice room altogether, just jamming to find out what we would like, and what we didn’t like, and that’s how it started, and everything came up.”
Jess: How did the song writing process go and what inspired the tracks.
“We started to write in the end of January 2010, and, as I said we just took all the ideas and put them together, and we found out what we liked and what every member of the band liked, because there is a strong democracy in the band—its teamwork. We work altogether and everyone has to approve the tracks and be happy about it, so, we kind of used the same process, the same popular process of song writing where everyone has to be 100% happy about it. We started to work when we were inspired, because we can’t write on the road; we need to be back home in our own environment to be able to focus completely on the music, and to dedicate ourselves 100% to a new work.”
Josh: Who did the majority of the writing process for this album?
“Marco our bass player, he’s the guy who puts everything together and writes the majority of the music, but everybody’s contributing, and Andrea and I are responsible for vocal lines and lyrics too.”
Jess: Concerning the song “Trip the Darkness” what was the meaning behind this specific track?
“It kind of represents the vibe of the whole album, it’s the fact that no matter what, if you are going through moments in your life that aren’t exactly happy, you can always find a good thing out of it. You can still, sometimes feel more alive because you are feeling something deep and something strong in yourself. The song talks about the fact that you have to try to go through this “darkness” and try to get out of it, to get out of the anger in a hopeful way because there I always the light at the end of the tunnel, and you can always reach it if you really wanted but at the same time you can still enjoy the darker moments for a while.”
Josh: What is the message you are trying to convey with “Dark Adrenaline”?
“We don’t want to send any message because the music—we write music because its therapeutic for us, its sort of a diary that we write day-by-day; we put all of our experiences in our songs, so we don’t write music to please other people or to share it, we basically are doing our own stuff and write to please ourselves, and its cool other people can share the same things we have, and the same things that we are saying. Sometimes, giving a different meaning, but I think its cool, it’s a cool thing about music that everyone can give a different interpretation according to the moments they’re going through, but we didn’t really need to send any message, I mean, we don’t want to teach anybody, we’re just writing music because we just love to do that for ourselves.”
Jess: What are the plans for Lacuna Coil once touring is over?
“We’re going to finish the tour April 3, so we’re going to be home for two to three weeks to rehearse, because we’re not only going to play a few shows in South America with Lamb of God and Hatebreed but, also coming back for a headliner right now we’re playing in The States, and then it is going to be a lot of touring’ summer festivals in Europe, and the usual circle. You put out an album, and then you tour as much as you can to promote it.”
Josh: If you could be any other singer for a day who would you be and why?
“I don’t know; Mike Patton, even if it’s a man, because he is one of the greatest singers ever, so—he can growl, he can go high and he has a lot of volume. It’s phenomenal, so, it will probably be him, either him or Freddy Mercury, preferably.”
Jess: What would you like to say to your fans?
“Well, I want to thank them so much, because, I mean we have been around for a while, and this is only possible if you have a strong basis of fans, and we say everyday that we owe them, because we write music, and they support us through the concerts they’re coming to see and through the albums they’re buying. This really important, because his makes it possible for us to continue to do what we love, and what they like, so, it’s a big thank you even if it sounds like the most obvious thing to say. You know, we try to thank them everyday through our pages, our Facebook and Twitter, Social Networks; we try to tell them, because its important for us to tell them everyday how thankful we are, and how blessed we feel, that we have such a great group of people supporting us.”
Good day! Thanks for speaking with us, we can’t wait to get to know more about you!
Thank you so much for this interview, Bridget!
When looking into the meaning of Kalidia, it’s been said it’s a combination of Kali, a Hindu goddess, and Lidia, an ancient land. How deep is the band collectively into myths and history?
In both albums there are a lot of songs about those themes, like Orpheus and Amethyst are about Greek myths, Myth of Masada and Harbinger of Serenity are a mix of history and mythology, while Lotus is about the Egyptian mythology and symbolism. We’ve always been intrigued by those themes and we often got inspired by reading a myth book or travelling in Greece.
You got signed just last year to Inner Wound records. What differences have there been versus being unsigned?
A lot of difference. First of all, we don’t have to take care of all the distribution that was a little bit stressful to understand in the very beginning. Also, a label has more connections and business channels compared to a band. Inner Wound really helped us a lot with great distribution and promotion and with some advices that were useful to reach a wider audience. However, we do not regret the choice we did for the first album: at that time, it was the best choice for us to go independent. This helped us to get all the income and invest more on the second album.
A fan page (on Facebook) was recently started! How do you feel about the fan page?
We are really honored to see someone so dedicated as Eddie (the owner and moderator of the page), this means at least we have touched him deeply with our music. He’s really doing a huge work!
You’ve recently finished a couple shows and have more in the future in Europe and the UK. What can we do to bring you to the Americas and other places (street team?) For us who haven’t seen you live, what should we expect?
We’ve been asked so many times to play this or that country. Unfortunately, it’s not our choice, we play where we got offers. So, the only thing I can say is… ask your local promoters to book us and we’ll come! We really hope we can play in America because we have a great amount of listeners over there (considering our Spotify results!). We offer an energetic and fun show with lot of hadbanging and jumping moments!
Next year will be the 10th anniversary for Kalidia. Any special plans for this benchmark?
Actually, we’ve noticed this really recently. We haven’t discussed about this yet, but we’ll surely arrange something, maybe a special show? Who knows 😊
In Lies’ Device and The Frozen Throne, we have heard collaborations with others. Who has been your favourite to work with? Who would you guest with on their album, if you had the chance?
I would say David Bassin of Victorius but only because we were in the same studio working out the vocal lines together, while the other guests usually recorded their own parts in different studio. Well, I’d love to be featured in an Iron Maiden album….is that asking too much? 😛
What can we look forward to with the band, plans with music and tours? Will there be any cross action with Walk In Darkness (Nicoletta’s other band)? Does anyone else play in another band?
We still have some show in April and May, after that we will take a couple of months off to work on the new album (we’ve already written some stuff, time to work on it!) and then back to more shows in Fall (to be announced). No problems with Walk in Darkness because this is only a studio project (at least for now, ahah!). Among the other band members, only Dario is involved with another band called Ion of Chios, but they are doing just 1-2 shows per year, so no big stress.
Sum up the band for someone who has never heard of you in three words (and why you chose those words):
Melodic – this is our trademark, strong melodies all over our albums.
Bombastic – mainly the new album has those strong orchestrations that made the sound huge!
Power metal – you can still feel the classic power metal vibes.
On a lighter side, Italy is known for fashion and Nicoletta loves to accessorize. Is there a place you swear by for accessories? What’s your favourite item to wear?
I do love rings! I have 5 which I think are my trademark because I always wear them during every show or video/photoshoot! At the beginning, they were just rings made of steel, then I ordered them custom-made in silver and gold (so that they won’t change colour, ahah!).
If one was to come to Italy, for a festival or just a short vacation, what would be some places you’d recommend?
My region, Tuscany. Known for great food, wine and incredible landscapes. Also, in our hometown (Lucca), we have the biggest comicon in Europe (Lucca Comics and Games) and many famous metal bands usually play there (Lacuna Coil, Mago de Oz, Trick or Treat, Wind Rose and many more)
Where has been your favourite place been to visit, either for music or just enjoyment?
Greek islands, not only for the beautiful sea. It’s a place really full of mythology and history.
Thank you for taking time out to talk to us. We look forward to speaking again, and also to the time of seeing you across the seas! (Wishful thinking at this point, but it’ll happen!)
Thank you, it was a real pleasure! Keep on following your favorite musicians… rock on and hopefully see you on the road!
Interview by Jessica Clingempeel & Bridget Taylor
Crowdfunding and the likes have been a major source for many new bands nowadays. With the success it has given Lyria, do you feel that you will keep this as a way to record future records? Do you feel crowdfunding gives you a more intimate connection to your fans versus the usual ways?
Hello, thanks for the interview. Yes, absolutely! It is amazing to have our fans working together with us to make the releases possible. It sure strengthens our connection and we probably will keep this successful partnership. Just to give an example, one of the rewards of our first crowdfunding campaign was to choose a subject for a song of the second album. So, this is a really participative role.
What, if any, were the challenges with the album Immersion and how did this record differ with the first in terms of recordings?
There were many challenges. Just to cite one, Zig suffered with an anxiety crisis just in the beginning of the records. But, in the end, Immersion was easier to record than Catharsis. We were more connected, with a very good chemistry, and the songs were already very consistent before recording, being practically unchanged during the process.
Aline, is there anything in particular that inspires your compositions? Or are they sometimes just random things that pop into your mind and you want to get them down?
I write about things that I felt in some way, things that really touched me. It could be something that happened to me or someone close. Sometimes I also put some dose of mythology. The lyrics generally talk about facing problems, overcoming bad moments and also give pieces of advice. In relation to music, we have different influences that come from pop to trash metal. Sometimes we build something step by step, sometimes it just emerges. Once I woke up with a full song in my head and in the end it changed just a little.
Regarding the lyrics, Aline, you have mentioned that some of your songs, such as ‘Hard to Believe’ is about anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Is that something you or a loved one struggled through personally?
Yes, it is. Unfortunately, nowadays, many people are dealing with these problems. Maybe because of our way of life: we are always receiving so much information and dealing with so much stress. Sometimes it is important to slow down.
The lyrics to “Let Me Be Me” is a song almost everyone can relate to. Everyone has had to deal with some form of rejection or been given the impression that one must change their attitude or ways of thinking, dressing, etc. What advice would you give to someone who may be reading this interview that is currently struggling with some form of bullying because of who they are?
You are not the problem, they are. Haters generally project their insecurities onto others. Don’t feel ashamed and don’t let anyone say what you should do. Of course, sometimes people just want to help you, so you need to figure out if they are pointing something you could improve, or if they are just criticizing for nothing. Be yourself and don’t give up your dreams. Work hard to make your dreams come true.
Is there any one song from Immersion that was the hardest to compose and/or personal?
Every song is personal in some way. I believe the hardest one was “The Rain”. It was one of the first to be written, but the last one to be finalized. We really liked the song, but we were not 100% satisfied until we did the last changes.
You have some gig dates coming up soon, all in Brazil, will any more be added and other countries, maybe even the USA in the near future? Any countries in particular you wish to visit?
Yes, there are still a lot of gigs to be added. I would love to tour other countries and surely, USA is on the list! We plan to do this in the near future and we maybe will do a crowdfunding campaign to make it happen. I would like to visit every country and go where our fans are.
Every musician has their pre-and-post tour rituals when playing shows. What does each member do before and after a gig to prepare and unwind? I think we will break this paradigm, we don’t have any rituals (laughs). Normally we have the Meet & Greets before playing. When we have more time, Rod likes to make some exercises before going to stage. After concerts, if it is possible, we like to go out and eat together.
If there was one band or musician you could pick to headline for, who would that be and why? What would be your ideal festival lineup?
Many bands that we like and are on the road for a very long time as Nightwish, Epica, Lacuna Coil and Evanescence, for example. It would be awesome to have a festival with all of them plus Lyria, Disturbed, Amaranthe, Delain, Santiano, Metallica, Of Mice & Men and so many others.
Social media has really helped musicians rise and get their name out there, especially international artists. How has it helped Lyria and do you think the band would be as known now if it were not for social media?
The social media was and still is crucial for Lyria. If there wasn’t for it, it wouldn’t be possible to reach our fans. So, we wouldn’t be known and probably wouldn’t recorded our albums.
If you had to choose one song from either album to introduce the band, which song would you choose and why?
At the moment, I would choose “Let me be me”. It is our latest single, it has a recent music video, it is a song that everybody can related to, and it has the potential to reach people that are not used to listen to metal. However, “Jester” is still our most famous song.
What genres do the members listen to that are different from Lyria and what were some of the influences that inspired the direction of Lyria in terms of sound?
We listen to many different genres like pop, electronic, Celtic music, Classical music and a lot of subgenres in rock and metal. I believe that we picked a dose of all of these influences to create our own formula.
How influenced is the band in regard to outside influences such as politics and/or religion when it comes to composing lyrics? What about instrumental composition and sound, for instance, does video game theatrics have a hand in the sound?
Normally we write more about feelings. People may have different interpretations about the lyrics. We love video games and movies, so, they can be also an influence.
Outside of music, what other hobbies do the members have?
I make jewelry and also like to cook (and eat (laughs)) and to pose and take photos. Thiago and Zig like to cook too. Rod loves video games and sports. All of us also like to spend our free time with our families.
Any last words for the readers? Hope you like the interview! If you didn’t know Lyria yet, you can find us on:
Today, we are interviewing Empress, a band consisting of members Barbara Blackthorne (lead vocals), Vlad Khavin (guitar), Mark Stainthorpe (drums), Joseph Muir (guitar), and Nicholas Bonsanto (bass). They just released their first single “Black Arcana” January 23, 2019 and are quickly catching the ears and eyes of people everywhere! We sat down for a quick introduction interview for this symphonic/power metal band.
Hello, and thanks for taking time out for this interview, it’s appreciated! Without another second, let’s get right into it. You seem to be a relatively new band with a quick hit following. First week alone, your single “Black Arcana” hit over 1,000 likes! How in the world did you manage that accomplishment?
Nick: “First, we’d like to take this time to thank you for interviewing us, every single person who has shown interest at all means a lot to us, we
honestly didn’t expect this much buzz right away! It’s pretty amazing, ya know?
We’ve worked on the music privately for many months and we really believe in this stuff so when we finally decided to announce the band to the world we told all of our friends, families and coworkers then of course shared everything we had extensively across social media and its been a lot of fun, sort of stressful, like sending your child to their first day of school but ultimately it’s been rewarding and beyond expectation.”
Barbara: “I feel like to one degree or another, each one of us has a little
following from past things we’ve worked on, so I feel that it definitely helped. Then the video got shared a ton by people and that helped spread it
around. We’ve been pretty thrilled to watch the numbers climb higher &
higher and see people respond so positively.”
Mark: “We’ve all been active musicians and fans of the local music around the Philly area so our initial audience was healthy from the start. Being able to share a quality recording and lyric video from the get-go has also helped us gain credibility in our work.”
It’s always great to see members telling a little about themselves, ie the bios shared on social media. How did y’all come together?
Vlad: “Well, the short answer is it was Mark’s fault. He and I ran into each other at a show. He saw me play in Infernal Opera, and I saw him a few weeks later with Percussor. Chat messages went back and forth and it turned out we listened to a bunch of the same stuff. At one point he put out a call on Facebook for people to jam with, and both Joe and I said we were interested. I didn’t know Joe at the time, but we got together in Mark’s basement one night, and so it began. I had some material I was working on at the time so we started working on that together. Black Arcana was actually the first original tune we jammed.
We went through a few auditions for vocalists. It was a diverse group of people with varied styles. To be perfectly honest, we were getting a little discouraged because even though the folks we tried out were good, they were not the voice we were looking for. We did meet some really cool people though! And then, in came Barbara. I think we knew she was it the moment she started singing. All we needed was a bass player… Nick was tried out on bass the next week, and so a year after that first jam, Empress was born.”
Mark: “I initially posted on social media that I was seeking members to start a new band. The replies were generous…having already seen Vlad and Joe rock at local venues with Infernal Opera and Seeds of Perdition, no audition was required! We began writing together and auditioned a few vocalists along the way before Barbara. We were blown away with her audition performance and offered her the gig on the same night. Nick had come along with Barbara to check out the band she was auditioning for. He liked it so much he wanted to come back and audition for bass the following week. Barbara, now a member got to decide unanimously with the group to invite Nick into the band.”
For the guys (I don’t see band history for Barbara), how is this band different from previous ones you’ve played in? Lots of years of experience here!
Nick: “This band is different for me mostly due to the symphonic elements like our click track and the strings and orchestration happening but beyond that, playing with such an incredible vocalist is really what makes this band shine for me. I came from a thrash and progressive background so I feel comfortable with this yet excited by a whole side of metal I have hardly explored.”
Vlad: “It’s, to me, an evolution. I’ve never done anything with symphonic elements before but I had wanted to for years now. It’s not always easy to find a group of likeminded people though! We definitely have elements of the progressive metal that I had played in the past and the thrashier stuff I’ve done more recently. With Empress, the style is grander and far more expansive than anything I’ve ever done before, and also technically and technologically challenging.”
Joe: “I am very new to playing metal when compared to everyone else in the band. My first metal band was Seeds of Perdition, a death metal group. Seeds was a very different breed of death metal, focusing more on catchy riffs and songwriting. It was a very good introduction to the genre. Empress is a similar idea, heavy, technical riffs that come together to make something epic and catchy. Empress differs a lot for me because it’s a sound I am not too familiar with, and one that I am always learning more about.”
Mark: “My previous experiences included rock bands, black and death metal bands. This band has allowed me to expand past the typical extreme metal styles and try out some more progressive chops.”
Speaking of the bios, it seems as though “Video games” is a common hobby. Do you think that was a major influence in your music? (Anyone who says games don’t have good soundtracks is indubitably wrong.)
Vlad: “Oh yes! Beyond any doubt. Video games are a huge inspiration to me. Their soundtracks are often full of gems, but also just the lore is a
great source of inspiration.”
Joe: “When not listening to Leonard Cohen, Frank Zappa, or Captain Beefheart, I am blasting video game soundtracks. Anyone who says games don’t have good soundtracks is wrong and should feel bad (just listen to DOOM 2016’s soundtrack and tell me it doesn’t make you want to rip and tear). We want Empress to be the soundtrack to life! It definitely makes an impact. I’m always sending the guys songs from games.”
Mark: “I love PC games and MMORPG’s and they usually have awesome music that inspires me.”
Barbara: “Video games and general geekery are almost always a huge influence on anything I do. When you play a game, you’re listening to the music from that soundtrack for countless hours and if you love it, it’s impossible that it doesn’t stay with you in some way, I think. There’s one song in particular we have that’s video game inspired, actually, but that’s all I’ll say on that for now ;).”
Nick: “I have always loved video games and their music. Zelda has always been especially dear to my heart, even when I was a kid I dreamt of either making games or music, one of those did not pan out but I can still combine my favorite passions today. Soundtracks to games and movies will always be an inspiration to what I’ve done musically.”
“Black Arcana”, as mentioned above, has become quite popular. What else should we look forward to in terms of future music?
Barbara: “Variety. One of the things that I’m most proud of with this band is the spin we’re doing on the genre. Every song has its own unique character while remaining undeniably Empress. We all come from different backgrounds and bring our own set of skills & influences to the table, and it comes together to create something that I feel is very special. I am incredibly excited to unveil more of what we have to offer.”
Nick: “We hope people are enjoying Black Arcana! It was our first song we
performed together and we felt it was fitting as the first song to release as it captures the essence of the band with a strong chorus to sing along to but I am personally very excited to show everyone what else we have been working on. The only way to hear the rest is to see us live which everyone will have a chance soon!
We are planning our second single release sooner than you think and it’s a lot of fun to play, faster paced for sure. Each song we currently have has a unique identity and I think expresses a different side of Empress. There is a faster power metal edge to us, then there is definitely a progressive side that we love exploring and then there’s the symphonic elements throughout as well as something equally important to us, which is writing great hooks and melodic songs that feel like anthems you can sing along with. We don’t want to compromise anywhere, we very much want to live up to our name, Empress and rule the stage.”
Any plans for touring just yet? I see you are coming near my area, Delaware, with the mighty A Sound of Thunder (DC hometown heroes) and MasterSword. Can we expect more stops with the people, because my little nerd heart is so happy – I am NOT missing this show! 🙂
Nick: “It will be great to meet you in person if you come out to the show in Delaware, we are so very excited to play with A Sound of Thunder and Master Sword, two bands we love and truly it will be an epic night for front women of metal! We have no current plans to tour but we are looking to book a couple shows before that one on June 29th. Some local dates around Philly and NJ area.”
Mark: “Glad to hear you’ll be attending! We will be booking ourselves for the foreseeable future. There are a couple dates and venues that have been offered in our first week so that’s awesome! Our plan is to get around our Northeast area this year.”
Barbara: “I’m looking forward to meeting you then! That show is going to be all sorts of awesome and I can’t wait to share the stage with A Sound of Thunder & Master Sword. As of right now, there’s no plans for a tour in 2019 as we’re focusing on releasing more content and playing shows in the
greater Philly area.”
Finally, anything else you’d want to tell us? Social media-wise, a joke, ending words?
Nick:“I would like to say thanks again for having us, we look forward to seeing everyone at upcoming shows and until then rocking out to our songs online, there will be more info and things happening on our page so just keep an eye out for all the announcements, we have only just begun!”
Barbara: “Thank you very much for the interview! And thank you to everyone who has been liking, sharing, and spreading the word about us. Our legion is growing and we hope that you’re just as excited as we are to take this journey with us.”
Joe: “All Hail Empress!”
You can find Empress on all social medias and their website (if you act now, you can also get a free download link to Black Arcana). Individual bios are also found on their social medias and websites, respectively.
Interviewed by Jessica Clingempeel & Joshua Becker
Hello Kevin, thanks for doing this interview with us. In September 2018, Tarja finally made it back to the states. I was cheering you guys on in NYC. How did the shows go in the States?
“It was great to finally do some shows in the USA after 8 full years seeing the rest of the world with all my crazy friends. The shows went well. It was interesting seeing the contrast between the international audiences and the one here in the USA. It was a totally different perspective on things. It was a pleasure to play all of the shows, NYC especially. That was the best show of the USA tour.”
Do you think her next album will bring more shows to the States?
“Tarja has a 2-3 year cycle of things, and we are about to start that cycle fresh this year….. Europe festivals, I’m sure Europe tour, South America, etc. I’ve been in over 60 countries with her so I imagine its only a matter of time within the cycle that we are back. I’m sure it wont be 9 years this time!! In all honesty, touring in the USA is not easy for ANY international band. But any international band always finds a way to get to places where their fans live. Some places are easier than others. The USA, as a country, does not make that easy for the fans of overseas artists to tour. The United States, and this moment in time, for international musicians, is probably THE MOST difficult country to tour in, in the world. As hard as China. Harder than Russia. Its not a concern for ME, but I am the only American in the band, so it does effect me!!”
What is the worst thing that has ever happened on tour?
“I’ve never been asked that….. so many things come to mind. Some personal, some musical. Some just LIFE. Personally? It’s my feeling that the worst thing that can ever happen on tour is if nobody shows up to see you. Tarja does NOT have this issue. She certainly has a loyal and steady fan base. Everywhere! But, not every artist, of whom I have played with, have that core to work from. Her fans should be proud of the collective THEY have created!! And continue to build it.
Regardless of whom you are a fan of, just remember that to us, the musicians, we tour for YOU. And we want you all to see us do what we love to do. We admire so many of you who come to shows around the world. But I will be honest, and this can be said for no matter WHO I play with or for: we need the lovers of music to unite when we happen to be in town, under the roof we provide, to create those special moments. They are, for YOU. Especially with Tarja and her great band. It’s the best band I have ever played in. We’re all damn proud of it. The worst thing that could EVER happen on tour, is that people don’t get to see just how far we have taken it, in the live show. All musicians want to create an experience that cant be forgotten. I don’t think the band has ever been better. Come to the shows!!! I’m not afraid to say, it’s BETTER than Nightwish. Let us PROVE it to you, if you are a denier or a skeptic.”
Regarding Tarja’s new album, will you be taking part in any, if not all, bass recordings?
“Of course, always. She has an amazing team of people that are constantly moving things in new and interesting musical directions.”
Any other details about the new album you can give us, or shall more be released to us “soon”?
“I am honest when I tell you, I only put things on my calendar when there is a plane ticket in my hand to begin the journey again. Stay tuned!!! You likely know as much as me!! HA!!”
Moving on, back in 2013 you had brain surgery due to epilepsy. How has it been since then?
“It has its ups and downs, but I am still Alive. What can I say? When you go thru something like that, each day has meaning. That comes with a price….. as the meaning is not always good!! BUT, somedays, the miracle of the fact that I am touring AT ALL comes into plain sight….. and I realize that I am a lucky to be doing it. There are close call, believe me. It doesn’t slow me down. If you have medical challenges, “nothing is going to stop me” is the only choice. My normal is fucked up. But, we all can say that in ways. I’m not special. So, I pick up my complications, try my hardest, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. If you want to do this AT ALL, regardless of if you have a health consideration, that’s the only mindset that will allow you to survive as an artist. Artists are the toughest of us all, sometimes. Don’t forget: most musicians put up with rejection, apathy, judgement…. and refuse to let it EVER stop us. Throw a health concern into this equation. An occasional seizure is still far easier than making a living in the music business. HA!!!”
Kudos to you for not allowing epilepsy to keep you from doing what you love. Has it ever hindered your ability to play though or keep you from giving your all?
“Thank you for that. I’ve played gigs after having seizures. I internalize the music, so its strange. Even in the delirium of waking up from a seizure, I can walk on stage and playa show, to nearly the highest level. (google Thessaloniki 2017 as an example). In ways, not thinking about it makes it easy. I don’t usually remember the show. It’s kind of bizarre….. Yes, I have missed a few shows. But, I can usually pull 90 minutes out of me, no matter how shitty I feel. A stage always seems to help me feel better.”
Moving on to the Swedish show you have recently been part of. How did you get involved in Allt För Sverige?
“I was asked a few years ago by a casting agent in LA if I would be interested…. But it never worked out with my touring schedule. 2018 was the first year I was available. When you live in LA, there are always small, strange connections to things. I ended up in Sweden, in other words, because hearing about that kind of stuff is normal, as someone who lives in LA and knows people in the broader entertainment business. It’s connected world wide, and it’s all rooted in Los Angeles, CA. But it was driven when I realized I had a chance to, in ways, reconnect my Swedish Heritage, reconnecting a lost link. In that strange quest, I have succeeded!!”
According to the description on the show, it is a reality show to meet long lost Swedish relatives. What was the process like about finding out about your heritage?
“It was revealing. I didn’t expect to find that my great great grandfather was sold into slavery by his own mother. But escaped, left Sweden and moved to America, creating a critical piece in the amazing family I am a part of. It hurt in ways. But then, it makes sense. Al Moberg, my great great grandfather, had challenges, just like me. And didn’t give up. Now I know why I am such a tough, stubborn old bastard that refuses to quit. Al Moberg and many like him, created the American spirit of fearlessness. I’m proud to uphold that legacy”.
When you get home from a long gig, or a lot of touring, what is the very first thing you do?
“I remember after a 32 hour flight home from Tokyo, in the wrong direction, Tokyo-Rome-Paris-Atlanta-Detroit-Escanaba, instead of the direct over the pacific flight, I kissed the ground. After this last tour, I totally unplugged all my devices and stared at the trees for a few days. It continued almost 2 months. 2018 was a bitch. It’s beyond exhausting. Tours never end happy. Because the tour is ending. Even though, you are exhausted. It’s complicated. You’re happy to be home but sad because you aren’t on the road. Every musician knows EXACTLY what I am talking about.”
You have been very vocal about the political state of our country lately, and with the Presidency. If you were a mouthpiece for the government, what would you say to them, and what policies would you change to make things better for us all?
“The mouthpiece TO them? Or FOR them? TO them (meaning any leader of any country, since we are talking politics), I would say the simple shit. If you care about your country more than you care about yourself, you are free to stay. If not, please consider another profession. Greed is the universal thing that divides people. Nothing can be successful if its run by people who openly dislike the idea of it even existing in the first place. How can you be a political leader if you say “government IS the problem”? YOU are government. You can’t build the house and tear it down at the same time. I honestly think the changes are nothing more than decisions we need to accept, as we all are forced to do in our own lives. There’s no right or wrong, there’s only compromise and results. It’s the easy way out to be famous for being against things. The path of a leader is to be FOR things. At that goes down to each and every one of us. What are YOU….. FOR!!!!?? Not AGAINST!!!? Would our leaders PLEASE rise to the occasion? And start to work FOR us, once again, as is possible? It’s our choice at the ballot box, then their choice, once in office. Only to be held accountable….. by THE PEOPLE. We all must join, then remain, in the conversation. To not care is to simply let the idiots win. Personally, I would never want to be the mouthpiece FOR the government. I DO know how to talk a lot however!! HA!! For future thought!!!!”
Do you find being successful in music makes certain things difficult, for example, going to a grocery store without being recognized? In other words, does your profession keep you from living a normal life?
“Not at ALL. People in Escanaba are people I have known my entire life. I’m not Kevin there. I am “Jack Chown’s kid”. As it has always been and always will be. Its why I love it there. It has NEVER changed. Not one iota. People there will see me and talk about the weather. In LA? I’m the least famous person in THIS town, believe me. That stuff happens on tour, but its supposed to. That’s part of touring….. running into fans. I enjoy it.”
Having been in the music industry for so long, what is one key thing you would change about it, to make better for you, and other professional artists in the industry?
“WHEW. Where to begin? When I fell in love with music, at the time, music was what defined everyone. Were you a metalhead? A new-waver? A punk rocker? A fan of pop music? Country? Or, did you just love some of EACH of them? That was me. I love all music. But, I say this because there was a time when MUSIC, not social media, not gaming, not even movies or TV at the time….. shaped culture and how each of us fit into that culture, based in music. It drove our hairstyles. Our fashion choices. Our attitudes. It created our groups of friends. Its was led to us forming our first bands. That culture has been lost, and as a result, people are defined by a much broader menu of cultural options….. and music has lost its greater audience. People still and will always love music. BUT, its not like it used to be.There is no doubt the business has gotten smaller since I started. Its up to the fans of music to look back to the history of its role in our lives. If music matters to YOU? Then, spread the gospel. I hope one day, for music to return to being the themes to what matters to us. That’s when good music HAPPENS. When culture and music are in tune with each other. What the music business needs, just like any other, is customers. WE call them FANS. No mater what, if musicians cant make a living, there will be fewer people making music. I have watched it happen in my lifetime. Are the fans of music, who are the TRUE music business, aware of this? Musicians, with the exception of very few, are all normal people. We have bills, a life, health problems….. just like everyone. The more we have OF your, the more we can then give back TO YOU. Because we can make a decent living. Believe me, being a musician is NEVER easy. The music business, and everyone who is a part of it, needs nothing more than YOU.”
It’s been a little while since we heard anything from Der Elefant, and the Facebook page is not updated much anymore. Are there any future
collaborations in the works?
“Me and Alex have thrown a few concepts around about what we want to do next. I’m sure we will be doing something when the universe makes it so. That goes for nearly anything I do. Nothing in life is certain, let alone in the music business. It happens when it happens. Then you make it the best you can make it.”
What about a future with Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats?
“I just returned to LA for the first time since May. Jeff has been gone. Ed is all over the place with his solo career as well as Robbie Krieger, Chad of course, is all over the place. This is the first time we all have been in LA at the same time in a few years. There’s talk, we even have about half a record written. Its just a matter of time. We just never seem to have enough time to do it!!”
What else would you like to say to our readers and to all your fans out there?
“I would say, it’s an honor to play music for you all. Keep the love moving forward. We live in a crazy world. We’re all surrounded by bullshit on a daily basis. It’s an honor to help create a world of openness, optimism and honesty, all rooted upon the waves of music. The bullshit is always at the doorstep, but at a show, at least for those 90 minutes, it’s a pleasure to be part of creating a moment that matters from time to time, for anyone who’s looking to come in search of a moment, away from the madness. We’re all in this together.”