Interview with Betrayer vocalist/guitarist Jeff Klingbeil 1/10/04 --by EC
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Jeff, Betrayer is working on finishing up their new EP "Shadowed Force", a follow-up to the band's 2001 debut "Rusted Icons". Let me first ask why you decided to wait three years before hitting the studio again?
Hi Eric, it's amazing how fast time has gone by since Rusted Icons was recorded. It seriously doesn't feel like it's been that long. When Rusted Icons came out it was really the start of everything. Here we had an album and didn't really know what to do with it. We hadn't played many shows and didn't have many resources to promote the album. So all this time we've taken steps to futher ourselves in just about every aspect; Musicianship, live performance, promotion resources, and all of that contributing to establishing a fan base.
What is the tracklisting of the EP and what can you tell us about the songs themselves?
Partaker of Evil - A fairly fast song with melodic riffs. The chorus is short and to the point (good one for a crowd to sing along to).
Shadowed Force - Probably the heaviest sounding of the three (at least the verse riffs).
Burden of the Pacifist - Anthem sounding chorus & simpler riffing for the most part with emphasis on vocals and lead guitar harmony lines.
Will this be the same Betrayer sound that we heard on the group's debut or will it be a different musical route?
I'd say we have retained a lot of the same musical elements we had on Icons. There have just been some new influences since the recording of Icons that have led our sound on this EP in directions unheard on Icons. I'd say most apparent is the mainly Edguy inspired sound of Burden of the Pacifist.
What sort of improvements have been made both in the studio and on the road?
In the studio most of the improvemets are due to our producer/engineer Glenn Fricker. He's learned a lot since Rusted Icons was recorded about everything studio related. He's responsible for getting just about all our tones on all instruments.
On the road it has a lot to do with what venue we play at and what they can provide. Some places have much better sound, lighting etc than others. I'm used to not being able to hear my vocals as good as I want.....at just about every show lol. I think we've just been able to adapt better & better with whatever situation we are in.
You had some delay in recording your vocals due to an injury. What sort of injury did you have and have you fully recovered?
The injury I sustained was due to me straining my vocal chords while trying to sing a very high raspy scream (In Skid Row's 'Monkey Buisiness') at band practice when I wasn't completely warmed up. My voice wasn't feeling that great to begin with that day and I really shouldn't have pushed it that far. My voice was further strained by having to perform at a show a week or two later without my voice being completely healed. I was really destroying my voice at that show.
My voice has completely recovered and it felt better than ever (at the time) when recording the tracks for the EP.
What sort of things have you done differently with your vocals on this release?
I think there's a more confident focused approach to my vocal performance on the new material. There's also more melody, harmony and range.
Where did you record the EP and who produced it?
We recorded at Spectre Sound www.spectresound.ca with the same producer/engineer as Rusted Icons, Glenn Fricker. Since Rusted Icons he has re-located and built a brand new studio.
When will "Shadowed Force" be available?
We will be getting it mastered within the next couple weeks (hopefully). So we're hoping to have it out by February.
Is the band playing any shows in support of the release?
We don't have anything confirmed yet but we have been discussing many show opportunities with other bands for the upcoming months.
Has there been any label offers thus far?
We've been in contact with some smaller lables and a couple larger ones who are interested. One of the bigger ones looks especially promising since they are anxious to hear the new material & really liked the clip we sent them. It'll be great if the EP gets us more attention in that area. I've heard of lables just watching a band for a while (even a couple years) to see what they do on their own before contacting them. So hopefully that's the case with us, that labels have been waiting for us to do something (in terms of new recorded material) and end up liking this new EP.
How hard is it for an unsigned band to make it to the top in the current US metal scene?
I'm not too familiar with the current U.S metal scene. That's probalby due to me not being exposed to or hearing the kind of metal that I like. There's very few new bands that come out that I've gotten into. Some of the newest one's that I love would have to be Edguy & Nightwish (which aren't that new anymore and not from North America).
One thing I can say is that we've seen a lot of local unsigned bands come and go during the time we've been together. I think that's one of the key things, just to be able to stay together long enough to establish anything & if a band is determined to stay together and love what they're doing no matter what level of fame & fortune they're at, then that's already a success. That alone I think increases any bands chances of climbing the ladder to the top so to speak.
Is the underground helpful or harmful in today's music industry?
That's a tough question. I guess that's determined according to who's perspective your looking at it from. For unsigned bands I think that a powerful underground market is tremendously beneficial. The internet is I would say one of the main promotional tools available to us and any band. I would say that even signed bands have gained a lot of success with the advent of the internet. For example a band such as Nightwish who gets radio and television play in Europe and other countries would probalby be unheard of in North America if it wasn't for the internet. But they are underground stars here I would say all due to the internet.
Then there's the issue of MP3 sharing on the net. That's a vast subject to debate. Some artist and record companies say it hurts sales & music and others say the complete opposite. I couldn't really say. It seems to me like there's just so much music out there and so many new bands coming out that it's hard for people to know what to decide to buy without first hearing a sample. Sure many people may just download without buying a single CD but I think many of those people wouldn't have bought those CD's anyways.
I think with all the music available for downloading it's only going to help improve the quality of bands in general and reduce the "cookie cutter" approach of labels trying to cash in on a trend, make as much money in the shortest amount time possible & exhaust that trend rather than developing and sticking with a band/artist for the long term, career oriented mindset. It will only be the die hard fans which actually purchase something from the band and it usually takes some special long lasting bands (in their genre) to produce those kind of fans. I believe those kind of bands/artist only emerge after "paying their dues" and spend time developing their craft over time as an underground act as oppose to a label signing a relatively untalented band or artist based on looks or as an attempt to cash in on a trend.
What albums are you looking forward to in 2005?
Yngwie Malmsteen "Unleash the Fury"......no others come to mind right now.
That is all that we have this go around. We wish Betrayer the best of luck in 2005 and we look forward to hearing "Shadowed Force" soon.
Thanks for the interview, and hope you all like the new EP!
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