Anyone who heard Massachusetts stoner-doom trio Faces of Bayon‘s debut CD, Heart of the Fire, would likely be glad to tell you the band has a penchant for the epic. Well, the interview I did with guitarist/vocalist Matt Smith, who also did a stretch in landmark New England outfit Warhorse, follows suit. Smith — joined in Faces of Bayon by bassist Ron Miles and drummer Mike Brown — was more than eager to open up on a range of topics surrounding the band.
And to be fair, there’s a lot to talk about. Not only is Heart of the Fire among 2011′s most fascinating and diverse doom releases — balancing punishingly heavy riffs and a darkened psychedelic feel against a narrative documenting the fall of Lucifer — but the circumstances under which it was realized would have been the undoing of many bands. The three-piece’s original drummer, Matt Davis, died in January of this year, leaving Smith and Miles with the difficult choice of pressing on or quitting altogether.
I don’t feel like I need a spoiler alert before I say they kept the band going. Faces of Bayon regrouped with Brown on drums and pushed forward with the release of Heart of the Fire. The album now stands as a tribute to Davis, who both played on and recorded it. Though he didn’t live to see it, Smith credits him for it existing and being released at all.
In the conversation that follows, Smith recounts the devastation the band felt at the loss of Davis and the support of the local community around them that made them keep going, the delays in releasing Heart of the Fire, being the only doom band on the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival this year, what inspired him to adopt the Luciferian concept and how that story — it’s pretty famous, you’ve probably heard it — relates to his own experience of going through a divorce.
The complete 6,000-word Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.
Oh, definitely. For me and Ron [Miles], the other original member, it was something that we felt like, in order to fully honor his contributions to the band, to finally get the CD out. Really, when you come right down to it, that CD wouldn’t even have existed if it wasn’t for Matt. Everything to do with the recording, he recorded it, right down in the practice space. He manned the controls, he had all the equipment, and the only reason that album sounds as good as it does is because of him. To me, that’s one of his best legacies he could’ve left behind. He put out so much music and worked with so many other people on all different kinds of projects, from experimental to gothic-types of metal and rock – all different kinds of stuff – so for him to have worked with us on that and to get it to sound like we wanted it to was just… Honestly, I don’t think that album would’ve sounded anything like it did without him.
Was keeping a tribute to him part of the decision to keep going with the band?
Yeah, it really was. It was a combination of that and the support we got from – you’ve probably heard by now about the Metal Thursdays at Ralph’s in Worcester, Massachusetts. That’s pretty much where we got our start playing out in the area. Right now, we’re getting the album out internationally and we’re gaining fans all around the globe, but to be honest with you, it’s where the bulk of our fans were when we first started off. After Matt died, it was the type of thing where we did a little tribute to him on the Metal Thursday following the news of his death, and everybody that was there was just so supportive and nine out of 10 people that talked to me the night that we did the tribute just said, “Oh, I really hope you guys are going to continue, because it would be a real shame if you guys stopped Faces of Bayon after this.” Between that and Ron and I wanting to continue it – because at first we were hesitant – you get all kinds of mixed emotions after something like that, but with the outpouring from the whole Metal Thursday community, it was one of those things where we were like, “We gotta continue it.” We got a couple drummers besides Mike [Brown], the one that we decided on, who came right up to us and were fans of the band and said, “Hey, if you need somebody, let me know.” It was the type of thing where we would’ve never had a problem finding a new drummer. That wasn’t the issue at all. It was just the matter of hearing everybody, hearing their support and the fact that they wanted us to continue. The saddest part out of this whole thing is he never got to see that album come out, and that was one thing that we were all getting frustrated with. We finished the whole recording process December, 2009, and what took so long was getting everything worked out with the album cover, and the layout, and the mastering of the CD. It was getting frustrating, because we had finished it and had a final mix for over a year, and the album still wasn’t out. I remember even Matt saying, “Yeah, someday the album’s gonna come out, right?” and we’re all like, “Yeah man!” Everything getting done and that’s what just sucks is he never got to see it come out. But that’s what happens. Everything is caught up in production and deciding on whether it’s a new logo – we had one guy working on the album cover, and had him working on logos and he didn’t come up with anything we liked, and we finally had this guy Christian from The Netherlands that was able to come up with a logo we liked, and then we had our friend Hilary Jason who was our friend do the painting. I had talked to a couple artists, told them the concept, but none of them could come up with something that we liked. Finally everything fell into place and unfortunately it took a year and a half for everything to finally fall into place and to get the album out. It really is bittersweet. The album’s out, and I’m really glad that he played on the album, obviously, because to use a Spinal Tap term, that was Faces of Bayon mach one. It was kind of funny. I almost wore a Spinal Tap shirt one night and I realized the whole drummer connection and was like, “Oh man. If anybody realizes that, they’re gonna think it’s a bad joke,” and I changed my mind about wearing the shirt. I was actually in a death metal band way back in ’91 –
Actually, it was the death metal band before Engorged. We were called Suffrage. We only played one gig, we only had a three-song demo, but that drummer also died under messed-up circumstances, so it was like, 19 years later, it was almost a repeat of that. It was freaky to have the same type of thing happen. Yeah. It was a little too much of a déjà vu for my tastes.
Tell me about bringing in Mike. You said you had other offers. What was it about Mike that made the decision?
The cool thing about Mike was he was actually already a fan of the band, and Ron has been friends with him since junior high or high school. They apparently started their first band together, back in high school, so they have this whole history. Mike’s a great guy. He’s on the same level as us. Same age as us. Same musical upbringing. His roots are in classic metal and classic rock. It was the type of thing where, when it came time to think about our drummer, immediately it was like, “See if Mike’ll come down and jam.” He’s not a very different breed of drummer, but his style is a lot more rooted in theory, whereas Matt’s style… when Ron and I started jamming with [Matt] in Faces of Bayon, he had never played live drums in a band before. It was his first real time playing in a band as the drummer. He had always played guitar or done drum programming or keyboards. I want to say he played dulcimer. He was the kind of guy that, if he wanted to play an instrument, or he wanted a certain instrument on something he was recording, he would buy an instrument and learn how to play it. The guy was a real renaissance man when it came to playing instruments. With Mike, he was coming from a whole different perspective, where he had been playing drums as his main instrument since he was a teenager, so he brought a whole different vibe to it. He’s got a lot of jazz influence too. He brought a lot of different types of feels, but generally, he would listen to the CD and try to get as close to what Matt played, but both Ron and I said, “That’s cool and everything, but we honestly want you to add in your own style,” and he’s getting to the point where he’s paying tribute to the way Matt played on the songs on the album, but he’s also added his own style as well, which I think is making a really cool difference in the way some of the songs sound live.
How has the writing process changed with Mike?
In a lot of ways, it’s still pretty much the same, because Ron and I come up with the riffs, and yeah, it’s pretty much the same. Matt and Mike were pretty much, “Okay, what’ the riff, let me lay down a beat to it and see how it sounds,” and Ron and I give feedback and say, “That sounds cool, maybe do this here,” type of thing. In a lot of ways, the songwriting hasn’t changed. The one big change that I have to say about it, the difference between Matt and Mike – and I don’t mean any disrespect to Matt in saying this – but Matt was a real closed emotionally kind of person. It was always hard to read how he really felt about riffs we were writing. Sometimes it seemed like he wasn’t really into it, but that was just his personality. He also suffered from depression and he was bipolar, so he had a lot going on in his head, and a lot of the time, it was hard to read how he was really feeling. There were times where Ron and I would flat-out ask him, “Hey, are you into it or not? Is it cool? Are you into this riff?” Sometimes he’d go, “Yeah, it’s cool,” and other times he’d go, “It’s alright, you know.” But with Mike, Mike is a lot more enthusiastic, and he’s got a lot more positive energy, whereas Matt had kind of a darker energy, and I think a lot of that had to do with he was battling his daily demons, so to speak, that was brought on by the bipolar illness. He’d been fighting that his whole life, and it’s not the easiest thing to deal with. I know first-hand, because my ex-wife is bipolar, and I saw a lot of that behavior with her. Whenever you’re dealing with somebody that’s having a hard time and an internal conflict in their heads, you’ve got to really handle them with – I don’t know what the right word is – you’ve really got to know how to act around them so you don’t come off like you’re pissed off at them. It can be a very fragile situation, where you almost feel like you’re walking on eggshells sometimes because you don’t know how a person’s going to be, what kind of mood they’re going to be in on a particular day. With Matt, the sad thing is that’s ultimately what ended up contributing to his death. The medication that was prescribed to him for his illness and just his… Thankfully I’ve never had to really deal with any real serious mental illness. We all get depressed at times, but most of the time I can talk myself out of it or do something that makes me feel better or at least well enough to move on and continue my daily life. People who have a serious mental illness, it’s not that easy to find something that’ll just snap you out of it.
Can you talk a little bit about the concept of the album, the fall of Lucifer and what was behind making that the theme?
It’s a concept that I’ve been playing around with for a while. Probably for at least a good seven years or so. Basically, what inspired me was Anne Rice’s book, Memnoch the Devil. In the book, Lucifer, his name is Memnoch, and he meets up with Lestat, the vampire, and he goes on to tell him the whole story of how he was really close with God, and he had a disagreement with God, and pissed off God and God banished him. It’s loosely based on that Anne Rice book, but it’s also the type of thing where, while it is a concept album, I think a lot of the lyrics can be adapted or interpreted to mean a lot of different things. In a lot of ways, especially in the song “Godmaker,” I actually wrote those lyrics thinking about my ex-wife, and how when things were really happy between us, it felt like I was her angel, and she looked up to me and then when things started going bad, it was like I was cast out of her life and she didn’t give a shit about me anymore. In a lot of ways, it may sound like kind of a stretch, but the whole concept of Lucifer being banned from Heaven, it’s like that whole abandonment feeling. That’s a lot of what I felt going through a divorce. My ex-wife didn’t want me anymore. She completely changed, and became a different person, because she went into a bipolar episode after our son was born. She became this totally different person after our son was born, and she decided she didn’t need me anymore and took off on me. In a lot of ways, I related that to the story in the Anne Rice book, Memnoch the Devil, and the whole concept of Lucifer and God and how at one point, you can be somebody’s best friend and lover and have the most intimate connection with somebody, and next thing you know, they’re becoming somebody that you don’t even know and they just completely abandon you and you feel like you’re cast out into your own Hell. That’s pretty much what happened to me after my divorce. She abandoned me and went off and was having affairs and (laughs), it’s like, in a lot of ways, I felt like it was a duel story by using the whole concept of Lucifer/Memnoch as a more concrete way. This is gonna sound funny, but it also sounds a lot more metal using that concept than saying, “Yeah, this is a concept album about how my wife abandoned me and we got divorced.” So it’s in the guise of that.
You mentioned “Godmaker” and that was a song I wanted to talk to you about. Obviously it stands out on the record for the clean vocals and the different atmosphere. Was that song written at the same time as the other songs? How did that come together?
Ron and Matt played together in this goth band called 12th of Never, and Ron had a whole bunch of bass lines that he had from those days, and one day he just started playing the bass riff that’s in “Godmaker,” and I said, “That was really cool. That would be a really cool, mellow piece.” In general, I like hearing that kind of stuff on a heavy album. I love when a band throws you a curveball and it’s totally heavy one minute, and the next thing is totally mellow and it throws you off but it’s cool at the same time. I said, “I’ve got these lyrics,” and next thing you know I’m like, “Wow, it kind of fits the whole concept,” and I added in the slide notes on the guitar, and then we added in the analog synth stuff. It’s just the type of thing where it really just worked out really well. Ron’s actually really good at writing riffs like that, and we’re gonna work on a tribute song to Matt at some point, we’re messing around with some ideas, and it’s going to be similar to that type of vibe — a mellower, atmospheric vibe. “Godmaker,” the whole thing pretty much came out of the bass line Ron had, and I thought it worked really well and was kind of hypnotic and created this atmospheric vibe on the album.
Everything around it is so crushing and heavy. It’s dark too, but it’s a different vibe. I thought it worked really well. And the way it splits the album was really well done.
Thanks. Yeah, like I said, that’s one thing I always appreciate. Especially in metal bands. And it goes back to Sabbath and Budgie and Zeppelin. You have these real crushing, heavy songs, and then all of a sudden, you have this mellow piece that comes out of nowhere, like “Planet Caravan” or “Solitude,” or with Budgie – I don’t know if you know Budgie at all – but on their first album, you have “Guts” and it leads right into “Everything in My Heart” and it’s this real folky ballad. I’ve always been a sucker for that. Sabbath. Ozzy would do it too. You listen to Blizzard of Ozz, and there’s so many great, heavy songs, and then there’s “Dee” and then you have “Goodbye to Romance.” I always like contrast. Dynamics. You take an album like Reign in Blood. Alright, dude. It’s fucking heavy the whole way through. It’s unrelenting. You don’t even really get a chance to catch your breath. It’s over. It’s not even half an hour long. That’s awesome, but to me, I’d rather have a little breathing room in the middle of something really heavy, where you’re just like, “Alright, cool,” you can kick back and collect your thoughts for a minute or two before the onslaught continues (laughs).
Can you talk about how the Faces of Bayon style developed? It seems like the trend now is faster songs, clean vocals, kind of poppy. Faces of Bayon goes the completely opposite direction.
It’s funny, because I’ve been wanting – you’ve probably heard or read I was in Warhorse for a little while. Back when I was in Engorged in ’93-’94, I was going through a real experimental music phase where I was listening to all kinds of stuff. Everything from Donovan to Throbbing Gristle. I was going all over the place, just trying to find the extremes of music, see how weird I could find stuff or how mellow. I was getting into Nick Drake and a lot of psychedelic folk. I was playing in Engorged, this real brutal death metal band, and they just kept wanting to get darker and more brutal, and here I was becoming more of a hippie (laughs). At that point, I quit the band, and I really wanted to start a band like Faces of Bayon and Warhorse, real slow and heavy and psychedelic, and experimental, and I could never find the right people that were on the same page as me. When I would tell them what I wanted to do, they would just look at me. I’d be like, “Yeah man, I want it to be a cross between Winter, Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth!” and people couldn’t relate to what I was saying. I got frustrated with that, so what happened was I just started making my own four-track demos of all my ideas. I don’t know if you’ve heard about my solo project, the St. Hubbins project. It’s just called St. Hubbins, because I’m one of David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap’s many illegitimate children. I started putting out these four-track demo tapes under the name St. Hubbins that were a combination of real heavy, doomy stuff, and real mellow, acoustic and some experimental. I was doing that as a reaction to just being burnt out playing death metal at the time. Actually, on the first two St. Hubbins cassettes, I have on the first one there’s an early version of “Brimstoned,” but there’s no vocals. It was just an experimental instrumental track. On the second St. Hubbins cassette demo, there’s an early version of “Ethereality” on that. So I was already doing that stuff back in ’95 and ’97 – the mid-‘90s – so when we first started Faces of Bayon, I had the “Brimstoned” riff, which I had always wanted to use in a live band, so we started off with that and created a whole song out of it. I’d always wanted to do that with a full band, so “Brimstoned” and “Ethereality” were almost already written before we even started Faces of Bayon. It was one of those things where finally the stars aligned and I met the right people to get a project like that off the ground. I’ll be honest with you, I was to the point where I had pretty much put that idea of that type of band out of my mind, because I’m like, “Ah, I’m getting old now, I don’t think I’ll be doing anything heavy again,” and then I joined Warhorse in ’99, and I’m like, “Cool, this is the kind of shit I always wanted to do,” but unfortunately at that time, I couldn’t stay with the band for very long because I was starting to settle down and get a family going with my ex-wife, so it was the type of thing where I had to sacrifice that for the family. My ex-wife wasn’t supportive of me being in a band at all. Looking back on it now, I can see how I was manipulated out of that, but that’s a different story. All these years later — because Ron and I – he played in another band back in ’93-’94 called Scattered Remnants, and Engorged and Scattered Remnants used to play a lot of shows together, and then I started running into Ron again around 2006/2007 after my divorce, and I started saying to him, “Hey man, I’d really like to get another band going, but I don’t know anybody who wants to do this kind of stuff,” and I told him what it was and he was like, “Oh, I’d be into that,” and that’s pretty much how Faces of Bayon was born.
Do you have a sense of how the response to the album has been? Everything I’ve seen has been pretty positive.
Just about every review we’ve gotten has been really positive. It was one of the reviews where I was reading it and I was like, “Really? Are they listening to the same album?” I’m always my worst critic, where I do something, and I’m happy with it, but I go, “Yeah, but I have some pretty eclectic tastes,” so whenever somebody else likes something that I do and that I’m really into, I’m totally psyched, but in a lot of ways, especially with some of these reviews for Heart of the Fire, I’m almost to the point where I’m like, “Really? They think it’s that good?” Like I said, I’m my own worst critic, so I’m always second-guessing myself, “Is something good enough? Is it a good enough vibe or riff?” But yeah, between the reviews and people’s reactions live, it’s been really, really good for me. Just in my overall outlook and my self-confidence, because I’m one of those people. I lack a lot of self-confidence, and when I do something creatively, whether it’s drawing, painting – which I really haven’t done much of in a long time – I’m always like, “Ah man, it sucks,” and sometimes I don’t even want to show it to people. It’s kind of funny too. Starting Faces of Bayon, it was like, “Alright, I don’t care if nobody’s really into it.” It was the type of thing where, we played our first show, I didn’t really know what people’s reactions would be, and when people were having a real positive reaction to it, I was like, “Alright, cool, it is worth doing this.” But that wasn’t even a question, because I wanted to do it anyway, but to get that positive feedback and know you’re doing something that other people appreciate. When I was in Warhorse, I really didn’t do a lot of the songwriting, because when I joined them, they’d already been together for two years, so they already had a groundwork of songs. And Mike Hubbard, the drummer, he did a lot of the songwriting. A lot of the time, a practice session would be, “Oh yeah man, I came up with these new riffs,” and he’d have practically a whole song written. Jerry and I might contribute a riff or two, and he would write a lot of lyrics, so in a lot of ways, Mike was the brains behind a lot of Warhorse. So when I was playing in Warhorse and people started really digging that, that was cool and I totally enjoyed it, but I always felt like, “Well, I didn’t really have a lot of creative input into this aside from my solos and my singing.” Really, I’d be like, “The credit goes to Mike because he wrote most of these riffs.” That’s why with Faces of Bayon, I’d say a good portion of the riffs on Heart of the Fire were written by me. Ron contributed a good amount too, but the bulk of the riffs is stuff that I came up with, and the lyrics and everything, so having people liking something I had a real big part of creating and writing, that’s just so much more rewarding to me. It came right from my heart, and to me, that’s one of the coolest feelings to say, “Cool man, people are digging something that came from my brain” (laughs). And a lot of doom bands have a lot of the same vibe and a lot of the same types of riffs and everything. You try to be as original as you can be, but you know that half the riffs you’re writing are probably riffs of another band, but there’s just so many of them out there that nobody’s going to notice anyway, because they’re done in a different context. That’s all stuff that’s expected.
How did playing the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival come about?
We actually wanted to play last year, but it was the type of thing where we hadn’t really been around long enough, and we didn’t have enough of a following. They like to get bands in there that have a decent following, but in a lot of ways, it was a really good friend of mine is really close with the people who book the shows there, and they needed another local band on the bill, and this buddy of mine was like, “They’d be a good fit, because there’s like no other doom bands almost all weekend” (laughs). Most of what they have at the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest is a lot of metalcore and nu-metal kind of stuff. I think they wanted to have a band on there that would break up the repetitiveness of a lot of the bands that were on the bill. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some really good bands on the bill, but to me, it was kind of like having people come up to us after we were playing, saying, “Wow, you guys were really good. I wasn’t expecting it,” and just hearing people say it was good to hear that style of metal mixed in with all the other bands that were similar in sound. That’s pretty much how that show at that fest came about. It’s funny, because I hadn’t played a New England Metal and Hardcore Fest since I played with Warhorse. I played the very first New England Metal and Hardcore Fest in 1999, so it was kind of like coming full circle, but with a whole new band and a band that I had started with Ron. It was really cool, after 11 years, to be doing it again after thinking, alright, hey, at least I got to play one of them. Back when I did the New England Metal and Hardcore Fest with Warhorse, I quit the band shortly after that — and I don’t know if you remember the magazine Metal Maniacs – but this was a month or two after Warhorse, I pick up the new issue of Metal Maniacs, I bought it, and I’m flipping through and I’m like, “There’s me! Holy shit. I’m on stage playing in Warhorse,” and meanwhile I’d been out of the band for a couple months, so it was kind of like, “Wow, shit, that’s cool. Too bad I’m not in the band anymore” (laughs). It was just really cool to see that and to say, “Well, alright, maybe this is my 15 minutes of fame here.”
What’s next for you guys?
Right now, we only have one show lined up, and that’s in Lowell, Mass, with some friends of ours, Ichabod, Dead Languages and Pilgrim. They’re all really, really good heavy bands from the area. And then we’ve got two new songs since the album, but right now, what we’re looking at doing for any type of release, is we’re probably going to do a split 12” with the new songs that we wrote. We’re not sure which bands, but Chris from Ragnarok Records – that’s his label – we just met with him a week or two ago and were discussing the gameplan. Right now, that’s what we’re going to be doing: a split 12” with as-yet-unnamed band. We’ve got a few possibilities, but I don’t want to name anybody yet for fear of them going, “Why didn’t they pick us?” But yeah, we’re going to do a split 12” with another band and get that out hopefully by the fall, maybe winter. And then Chris Ragnarok is going to put out Heart of the Fire in vinyl after that. A lot of people have been asking when Heart of the Fire is going to come out on vinyl, but that’s the plan right now, so unfortunately people are going to have to wait a little bit longer for the vinyl. We’ll keep writing new stuff. We just debuted a totally new song last week when we played Ralph’s, and the response was good. It’s actually the first Faces of Bayon song where I haven’t written the lyrics. They’re lyrics written by Mike, our drummer. He’s into lyric writing as well, because he’s into a lot of really cool stuff, a lot of mystical, Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley-type of literature and stuff. He comes up with some pretty good lyrics. So we’ve got the new song, and then there’s another new song that we’ve been playing that we’ve had written since last fall. Yeah, we’re just gonna keep writing new stuff. Like I said, there’s a song that we’re going to work on at some point as a tribute to Matt. I’ve got the lyrics and I’ve been messing around with some melodies for it and stuff. To me, I just want to keep expanding on the Faces of Bayon sound. I don’t want to do anything too drastic, where it alienates fans that like Heart of the Fire, but I do want to keep pushing the boundaries and trying something new on every album, because to me, you’ve gotta have some progression in your sound. It’s one thing for AC/DC and Motörhead to churn out the same album over and over. That’s cool and everything. With me, I don’t know if I could keep doing the same thing. I have this idea for one of our new songs and I want to add in a different kind of vibe to it, just so it can throw people off, but still be heavy. I don’t want it to be drastic so that our next album sounds like Clutch or something like that. I don’t want to do anything that drastic, but the type of thing where from every album, it’s a little more every time, so by the time by our third or fourth album – that is, if we make it that far (laughs) – it’s such a natural progression that it’s not going to alienate people too much that it’ll be like, “Wow, this is cool.” It’s like a band like Voivod. You listen to their Metal Blade albums, like War and Pain, Rrröööaaarrr and Killing Technology, then you get up to Nothingface and The Outer Limits, and especially Angel Rat, it’s almost like a totally different band, but the process was so gradual that it wasn’t a shock to the system that you didn’t put on an album by your favorite band and go, “Whoa, what the hell are they doing?” You almost prepared for that next phase. But in general, I’d still want to be involved in the genre of doom, the whole stoner/doom thing. A band that I think’s really doing that well right now is Zoroaster. You listen to their first couple albums, and then their newest one. It’s a gradual progression, where they’re adding a little bit more and more, but it’s subtle and you still dig it. Matador, to me, that’s probably their most experimental album they’ve put out yet, but it wasn’t so far that it was like, “Whoa, they sound totally different.” You put it on and you’re like, “Yup, this is good,” but it’s just enough to keep it fresh sounding. For the next album, I wouldn’t want it to sound just like Heart of the Fire. I’d want it obviously to have a similar vibe, but I want it to feel like, “Alright, they’re maturing in some way,” because with this album, these are the first songs that we wrote together and played together. In a lot of ways, especially with my vocals – not that my vocals have changed much – but I’m much more comfortable now than I was when we recorded the album. Since I played with Warhorse, I haven’t done anything in a metal band. All the stuff I’ve been doing music-wise has been real mellow and more songwriter/folk kind of Pink Floyd kind of stuff. Kind of like “Godmaker.” That kind of singing. So to come into a metal band, playing some heavy stuff again, now I gotta try to find my voice again. Even when we first started Faces of Bayon, it was the type of thing where it was like, “Alright, how do I want the vocals to be? I want it to be heavy…” I had this vocal style when we were practicing for our first show, and it was nowhere near as heavy and as gruff sounding as it is on the album. But it was funny. As soon as we played our first show, immediately, I’m on stage and I’m about to sing the first lines, and it just came out of me, almost this whole new voice, and from that point on, it’s like, “Alright, cool. I think I found the voice I want to stick with for most of the songs” (laughs).
Fortunate timing that it happened before you started singing.
I’m assuming you’ve played in a band at some point, probably even sang. You know what it’s like when you get up on stage. It’s totally a different vibe from the rehearsal space. You get the energy from the crowd, you get the P.A., everything’s that much more massive, and immediately, I just started singing in a lot heavier voice. I think it was Ron said, “I’m surprised you’re singing like that,” and I’m like, “I know. It just happened.” And after that, it’s pretty much the style I kept in. It’s similar to the style I had in Warhorse, but even by the time I quit Warhorse, I felt like I hadn’t really found a real solid voice yet. If you listen to the Lysergic Communion 7” and then the Priestess 12”, those are the two releases that I recorded with them, from those two, my vocal style changed a little between those two releases, and especially from – we did a demo winter of ’98, and I was really not confident at all in my voice, so I put it through all these effects. I heard it not too long ago and it almost made me cringe. I was like, “Oh man, it’s a good thing we didn’t release this in a mass quantity. It was just one of those things where we only gave it out to a couple dozen people and to labels and stuff. To me, it’s always a constant progress. The newest song starts off pretty mellow, where I’m singing as opposed to growling or screaming, so yeah. I’m always up for something new and different. But like I said, without totally alienating what people are used to.
Tags: Faces of Bayon, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Ragnarok Records