|Well let's talk about what you have going on here. "Return Of The Snow Giant" is probably the best album I've heard in the last ten or fifteen years. So what has been happening with the band in the last seventeen years and why such a delay between the '87 EP and now? Why the reunion now?|
JB - Well we actually started getting back together in '99 and 2000 after we found out we still had a fan base in Europe believe it or not.
Yeah, those guys are die-hards.
JB - We had no concept, we were still friends. My wife is friends with Mark's wife. Dave got in touch with us and said something is going on, something is happening. So we found out the old EP was selling for like $100 to $150 bucks in Europe.
Were they bootlegs or originals?
JB - All I know is we sent out albums when we were playing in the 80s. We sent them out to West Germany, back then the wall was up. My feeling is whoever we sent them too, and I can't remember who it was, when that wall came down in '89 or '90 that is when CDs started getting popular. I think anyone with cassettes or albums sold them to all of these poor slobs behind the iron curtain. I could be wrong, but that is just my take on it. With cassettes you make a copy for your buddy, your buddy's friend. Same deal and people liked it. Basically some type of bootleg went on, I don't think it was a mass thing. If it was they would have found us a long time ago. Just like word of mouth man.
When did the recording begin for this record?
JB - We did the recording in July. It was during the summer, it was hot. I guess the mastering was done first or middle of October. It was done over the last three or four months.
I read that the studio sessions were recorded for a possible video release. Is that true?
JB - We did tape a lot of the sesssions, and we taped our last show we did in New Hampshire. That was back in October right before the mastering. We have recording footage, the last live show we did, the sound isn't too good. The sound was good there but not on the video.
So when will the DVD be available?
JB - We are holding off on that. We still have to edit it and see what we wanna do. Aside from the live thing we haven't set down. We need to see how long we wanna make it and see if the record label will allow us to do it.
Let's talk some more about this album. To me this album sounds really old, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It really has that early 80s ring to it. Does that make sense?
JB - Well you know, we are only a three piece. All of our influences came from the 70s and 80s, much like everyone else's influence. A lot of these people want to sound like Dream Theater. We like to keep it dirty and raw. We feel like we can kick as much ass as any band with five guys in it. We are only a three piece and a singer.
As far as the production goes, it doesn't sound like a technological nightmare like so many of today's releases, where everything is so loud you can't really hear anything. With this production it sounds like the early Maiden and Saxon albums...
JB - ...well thank you! Listen, you know we want to sound like Overlorde. We have a distinct sound, we are metal, speed metal, power metal, we are that. But we do have our influences. You know we were actually turned down by several record companies because they said we were too funky sounding.We were like what do you mean, funky!?! A lot of our songs have groove, we have grooves we like to get into. My influences go back to Grand Funk Railroad, Sabbath...Sabbath was very groovy. Groovy not like hip, I mean groovy like the bass. Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, they had grooves. It was flowing. To transpose that and the aggresiveness and the Mercyful Fate and Rush influences. We wanted to make sure that we can pretty much sound the same way live, we have always been like that since day one. Of course Mark still did a lot of overdubs that he wanted to do, but there isn't anything that will overshadow us if we play live. We really wanted to keep it basically metal. To me metal is fine, progressive metal has keyboards. Metal doesn't have keyboards. You can throw it in here and there, but you are talking to a guy who grew up with bands that had keyboards. Kansas, Styx, even Rush had a thousand keyboards in it sometimes. But we wanted to keep it raw and we did use Pro Tools, so whatever these guys are doing with it is allowing the producers and engineers to run everything. That is good to a point but to keep it raw, that is the whole thing. It sounds raw but it sounds up to date.
Yeah, exactly, I guess I should just say the production is raw...
JB - ...the quality is there. I was totally blown away by it. I have an ass kicking stereo in my car, I have a 1200 watt in my little pickup truck. It sounds awesome.
If it is alright with you, can we go through each track and get an idea behind each song?
JB - Sure.
Let's start with the intro "And The Battle Begins".
JB - The intro. Dave said hey, how do you like this. We took it and built it up. Dave and I have always had a good relationship. Some of our songs have always been a warm-up thing that we used to do on our own. We would always be there early, even at rehearsals. This is one of those things where Dave came up with the beat and asked me to put something behind it. So that was really it. Mark liked it, everyone seemed to like it, so we went with it.
Now you have "Snow Giant", which is an older song that you decided to re-record and throw on this record.
JB - Yeah, that is a classic, I think we have opened up with "Snow Giant" eighty to ninety percent of the time we were out. That is one of our signature songs, Mark wrote it. Of course we changed it on him. It is one of our favorite songs and we felt the need to do that.
What influenced that song?
JB - Mark has always been into the knights and the medival stuff, as most metal bands are. Armored Saint, Rainbow, these are influences that Mark has had. It is about a winter...well you know the best thing is to ask Mark that one. Get him to describe "Snow Giant".
Okay, next we have "Hell Hath No Fury".
JB - Like a woman denied. Yeah that is another song that Mark wrote, I'm not sure where the actual influence came from. I know it was one of those songs that was left wide open. I got to shine on it, it is one of those with a free flowing bass line. It might have come from a movie, I'm not too sure.
Okay, let's talk about "Star Castle".
JB - The only song we do that begins with an ending. That is one of our favorite songs to do. That one is medieval with ogres and stuff. That is one of the first things Mark had in his thing when we got together in the early 80s believe it or not. That has progressed, it's a fun song to play because you have different parts to it. It is a very fun song and people seem to like it.
One of my favorite cuts is "When He Comes". Tell me about that one.
JB - That one is written by yours truly. Mark wrote a couple of little parts, I think he wrote the bridge. That has my Roman Catholic influences, eleven and a half years of getting beat up by nuns. Actually it was only the first couple of years then I got too big for them to beat up on. Yeah, "When He Comes", we all have to have our beliefs. We have to wait for our maker to come back. It is one of our favorites too.
Next is "Metallic Madness".
JB - Another song I wrote. It is apocalyptic, machines taking over, I'd say we just dabbled. Once again that one is getting back to the groove, it is a groovy song. It has a real nice groove to it.
JB - Dave and I wrote that. That was also one of those practice tunes that Dave and I used to do just to warm up. It got to Bobby and he heard it and put some nice words to it. We wanted to include that one on the album.
"Ogre Wizard" is next.
|"We like to keep it dirty and raw. We feel like we can kick as much ass as any band with five guys in it."|
JB - That's probably the favorite song of the band...
...to me that song sounds really European, it has a real German influence to it like Keeper-era Helloween.
JB - Vocal wise or music wise?Probably a little bit of both. Lucas sounds like Kiske on that track for some reason.
JB - Now you realize in the beginning who use to sing all of this, yours truly. I was the orginal singer. If you go back to the EP and listen to all of the higher screams it is yours truly. On the 2000 demo I was able to match a lot of the stuff Bobby was doing. Now it just gets to be a headache, I'll just do backups. He has a better voice. (laughing). The thing with Bobby is his voice seems to change to fit the song. I don't know if he intentionally does it. Just like all of us, we have influenes that seem to come out if the song has a certain feel to it. Like you said he has that Helloween shrill, and there are other songs that he definitely sounds like Dickinson, Dio, and Halford here and there.
On to my favorite cut, "Mark Of The Wolf".
JB - The old epic. Once again different influences. Definitely a fun song to play too. You have the slow part in the middle, you have the nice mellow part in the beginning. It is a fun tune, it's nice and long. People think it is ending and you rip into another part. Bands don't write long songs anymore, if they do they get off of the main vein. We tried to keep the song in touch with itself.
Obviously that song was influenced by Lon Chaney movies and things like that.
JB - Oh yeah. I grew up on that.
"My Disease" is next.
JB - Okay, that is another song that has nice groove. Getting back to influences. It isn't your typical speed metal song, it is fun to play. It has the little breaks in it and goes into different things. Bobby wails on it.
"Trapped By Magic" is next, and man this one has some killer guitar on it, reminds me of the beginning of Ozzy's "Crazy Train".
JB - Yeah, Mark did a good job. He worked his ass of in the studio. How much can you really do with drums or bass? The engineer did a great job in that sense but Mark was there all the time. It was like he lived there. But he was close, so if I lived ten miles from the studio I would have been there too. Unfortunately I was a hundred miles away. Mark worked very hard and would send me samples and would ask what I thought about the songs. "Trapped By Magic", I forgot when we wrote it. That one is definitely a Dio or Rainbow feel. With Bobby he sounds a lot like Dio on that song.
Another fantasy epic follows with "Colossus (Island Of The Cyclops)".
JB - Influenced by the adventures of Sinbad. That is one of our newer tunes. The beginning part I wrote, that was one of those that I had a song and Mark threw some stuff on there. It was one of those total collaborated ones. We took a song that I had finished and we chopped it up to break it up a little more. Bobby threw some words on there and it came out good. One of my favorites to play.
The last cut is an older tune "Overlorde".
JB - Just like "Snow Giant" would open our shows, "Overlorde" would finish 99% of the time. I wrote that one around the same time we got together with Mark. It is our theme song, it has a lot of different influenes on it.
Let's talk about the artwork for the album. Obviously this is a reflection of "Cyclops" or "Snow Giant".
JB - We had a lot of stuff going on within the artwork but they decided it was a little too busy. Of course we wanted the naked chick but that didn't fly too well.
Did you guys come up with the cover idea?
JB - This is something people work for their whole lives, to finally get a record company that believes in you as much as you believe in yourself. So obviously since "Snow Giant" was one our our banner songs we've always wanted the vision of the Snow Giant on there. With Bobby having the Cyclops we wanted an image of the Cyclops battling the Snow Giant. This is the artist interpretation of that and it turned out good. I think he did a really good job on it. I believe the other cover has the wolves on the mountain, and we did have other things in there but they cut some of it out.
How did you get involved with Sonic Age?
JB - He was actually one of the first people to do an interview with us when we first started getting back together in '99 or 2000. He works for a magazine and much to our surprise and pleasure he started a record company a year or two ago and he wanted to get us on it. He felt that strong about us and being that we have been invited out to these festivals in Germany for the last three or four years, this is the first time that we are actually going.
Are you on any type of contract with the label and will there be another record?
JB - Yeah, we are on a contract to do one more CD and we want to see how this one does obviously. It was a very pro-musician contract and he is a real good guy. He is looking out for the musician and the bands. There has never been an issue or anything that we have disagreed on. If there was it was easily rectified by simple dialogue. It was like talking like you and I right now. Mark has a good relationship with them, he does most of our contact between the band and label.
What is the response like thus far from the fans and media?
JB - It has been pretty positive. The few people that I have let hear it went gaga over it, they went nuts. Friends from bands that I have been in over the years want a copy now. Everybody digs it, I think because it is refreshing to hear a band sound like a band you like. We sound like a band that everyone likes, everyone that is into this type of music anyway.
Any tentative tour plans right now other than the Keep It True festival in Germany?
JB - We are going to do Keep It True and see what happens with that.
Is this the band's first trip overseas?
JB - Absolutely. I am totally psyched.
Some quick random questions before we go. Are you pleased with the election results this year?
JB - Yeah, the lesser of two evils. I have a stepson in the Marines and I think they should have full body armor and that type of stuff.
What are your thoughts on the current scene here in the US?
JB - It sucks. Absolutely sucks. I played in a copy metal band and we would pack the little bars up here doing Maiden, Metallica, and Priest. It is there, the media doesn't want us to know it is there. Just like everything the media controls it and it is up to the individual to say suck this, I'm not going to listen to your crap. That is basically what it comes down to. There are us hardcores that won't stand for it.
Who would you consider the true heavy metal icon?
JB - Damn. That is hard. Last year was the first metal show I have seen in years. It was the Maiden/Dio/Motorhead show and Dio was awesome, but when Maiden came out they just kicked major ass. Even though they had to rely on three guitar players, which I don't think they need that many, they still got it. I would say Maiden because they still have it.
What city would you consider the heavy metal capital of the world?
JB - Where is this festival we are playing? (laughing)
Well man, that's cool. We really appreciate your time. When year-end awards come this will be album of the year for me.
JB - It has been my pleasure.
Good luck in Germany.
JB - Thanks a lot.
Editor's Note: The idea behind "Snow Giant".
Mark Edwards (guitarist): "I didn’t realize it until years later, but the inspiration for SNOW GIANT was a framed poster of a painting by famous fantasy artist Frank Frazetta that was hanging in my bebdroom. The painting is called THE SILVER WARRIOR, and was of a Conan-type warrior being pulled through the snow on a sled by polar bears. Since the lyrics came to me while sitting in a park on a beautiful spring day (the first day of spring actually) it seems logical that the painting was subconsciously influencing me that day."