Tony Taylor, vocalist for Twisted Tower Dire by Agent Of Steel - 02.24.03
First off Double T, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! Lets' get this Metal flame rolling. How did Piet Sielck (Iron Savior) get involved with producing/recording the new Twisted Tower Dire album, "Crest of the Martyrs", and how did things go during that crusade to Hamburg, Germany?
HI JOSH, I'M HAPPY TO BE DOING THIS WITH YOU. BASICALLY IT CAME DOWN TO TWO PRODUCERS THAT WE WANTED TO WORK WITH. PIET SIELCK AND KAI HANSEN. WE FELT THEY BOTH HAD ALOT TO OFFER THE BAND FROM A PRODUCTION STAND POINT BUT PIET'S PRODUCTIONS ARE A BIT MORE "IN YOUR FACE" AND POWERFUL SOUNDING.WE ASKED HIM TO DO IT AND IT WAS A DONE DEAL.THE RECORDING PROCESS WENT GREAT. PIET CAN BE A VERY TOUGH PRODUCER SO YOU NEED TO LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR.HE REALLY BROUGHT OUT THE BEST OF TTD ON THIS RECORD.
With "The Curse of Twisted Tower", the songs were more complex, and drawn-out. "The Isle of Hydra" changed direction a bit with shorter, more to the point, catchier songs. What direction has the new album gone, compared to the past two full-lengths?
THE SONGS FOR "CURSE" WERE WRITTEN AS INSTRUMENTALS BY THE BAND SINCE THE BULK OF THE WRITING TOOK PLACE WHILE THEY WERE BETWEEN SINGERS.SO THEY HAD THESE LONG JAMS THAT THEY HAD BEEN WORKING ON.I LOVED THE MATERIAL BUT IT WAS HARD TO WRITE LYRICS TO BECAUSE THE MUSIC HAD SO MANY CHANGES, MUSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY.WE PULLED IT OFF THOUGH AND EVEN WITH A PRETTY POOR PRODUCTION THE ALBUM SERVED IT'S PURPOSE IN PUTTING TTD ON THE MAP. "HYDRA" WAS MORE VOCALIST FRIENDLY, AND ALSO WITH THE MOST COLLABORATION BETWEEN ME AND THE BAND.I'VE BROUGHT A DIFFERENT VIBE TO THE BAND AND THEY OF COURSE HAVE MATURED IMMENSLEY AS MUSICIANS AND SONGWRITERS. THE NEW ALBUM "CREST OF THE MARTYRS" IS MORE IN THE VEIN OF "HYDRA" BUT GOES EVEN BEYOND WHAT WE DID THERE. IT'S STILL EXCITING WRITING BECAUSE OF MUSICAL INFLUENCES ARE SO VARIED THAT EVERY SONG HAS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT TEXTURE.
How did Derek Riggs (mostly known for his work with the Iron Maiden album covers) get involved with doing the artwork for "Crest of the Martyrs"?
AGAIN WE WERE TALKING ABOUT WHO WE'D LIKE TO HAVE DO THE NEW ARTWORK.WE WANTED TO GET AWAY FROM WHAT WE HAD DONE IN THE PAST. I THINK SCOTT (WALDROP,GUITAR) SAID" LET'S ASK DEREK RIGGS"AND I SAID "ALL HE CAN SAY IS NO" THANKFULLY HE SAID YES. WE OF COURSE WANTED HIM TO DO SOMETHING IN HIS EARLY STYLE AND THE FINISHED PRODUCT IS A COMBINATION OF HIS OLD AND NEW WORK.WE ARE VERY HAPPY WITH IT.
As we both know, Twisted Tower Dire are now signed on to Remedy Records for 5 albums (?!). How did that come about and why the decision to put out so many albums on one label?
THE CEO OF REMEDY APPROACHED US AFTER OUR SET AT LAST YEARS "HEADBANGER'S OPEN AIR" FEST IN GERMANY AND SAID HE WANTED TO SIGN THE BAND.WE WERE INTERESTED BUT WE ALSO HAD OTHER OFFERS TO CONSIDER. REMEDY WAS THE ONLY LABEL TO GIVE US EVERYTHING WE ASKED FOR MONETARILY AND CONTRACTUALLY.THEY HAVE DONE EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO BRING US IN AND SHOW US THEIR INTENTIONS TO PUSH TTD. THEY ASKED US TO SIGN A 5 ALBUM DEAL AND AT FIRST WE THOUGHT ABOUT NEGOTIATING DOWN TO 3 BUT WHEN SOMEONE GOES OUT OF THERE WAY TO SHOW YOU HOW MUCH THEY BELIEVE IN THE BAND WE FELT IT WOULD BE A COOL GESTURE TO AGREE TO THAT TERM. PLUS THE WAY I SEE IT I'LL BE PUTTING OUT ALBUMS FOR THE NEXT 5 YEARS FOR A LABEL THAT IS ON THE RISE. I'LL BE 40 YEARS OLD BY THEN AS WELL SO WHO KNOWS WHAT I'LL BE LIKE!
June 2002 marked the end of the German/US tour for Twisted Tower Dire. What is it like playing shows in America as opposed to playing shows in Germany?
WELL WE'VE PLAYED MANY PLACES IN AMERICA THAT WERE AS COOL AS GERMAN SHOWS BUT THE OVERALL VIBE IS THAT THE GERMANS GO APESHIT FOR METAL A LITTLE MORE THAN THE AMERICAN CROWDS. HERE IN THE USA YOU'LL HAVE ALOT OF CRITICS/OTHER BANDS STANDING IN THE CROWD TRYING TO ACT COOL OR TALK SHIT ABOUT THE BAND ONSTAGE. IN GERMANY IT SEEMS THAT PEOPLE ARE THERE FOR THE SPIRIT OF METAL AND THE EMOTION AND THEY LET IT SHOW WHEN YOU PERFORM.
I've had the privilege of seeing TTD live, twice. With the exception of "The Witches Eye" (fantastic!), there were no songs played from "The Curse of Twisted Tower". Do you guys exclude that album in your set nowadays? I would love to hear "Land of Illusion" or "The Epic War Never Ends"!
THE MAIN REASON WE DON'T PLAY THAT STUFF TOO OFTEN IS THE LENGTH OF THE SONGS 6-7 MINUTES AVG. WHEN WE PLAY A NORMAL SHOW WE ONLY HAVE 30-45 MINUTES TO DO OUR SET AND WE WANT TO PLAY AS MANY DIFFERENT SONGS AS WE CAN BECAUSE WE ALWAYS ARE WRITING NEW SONGS AND WE WANT TO GET A REACTION TO THEM.
I always thought your vocals sounded like a cross between Geoff Tate (Queensryche) and Michael Kiske (ex Helloween). Do you like those vocalists? Who were/are your favorite singers? Did you ever have any proffessional vocal training, and at what age did you start singing? Sorry for so many questions at once. haha!
NO PROBLEM MAN, TATE IS ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITES, KISKE IS GREAT ALSO.(THANKS FOR THE COMPARISON!WOW!) ON MY LIST YOU'D HAVE TO HAVE DAVID BYRON (URIAH HEEP), STEVE PERRY (JOURNEY), TOMMY SHAW (STYX) AND ON THE METAL SIDE: BRUCE D. (MAIDEN), JOHN ARTCH (FATES WARNING),TONY MOORE (RIOT, THUNDERSTEEL ALBUM),TONY MARTIN (BLACK SABBATH), AND LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST RONNIE JAMES DIO.I STARTED SINGING QUITE YOUNG, MY MOTHER SANG COUNTRY MUSIC ON A LOCAL ACCESS "HEE-HAW" RIP-OFF SO SHE ALWAYS HAD ME AND MY 3 OTHER BROTHERS SINGING. MY FIRST REAL BAND WAS WHEN I WAS 17 AND SADLY I'VE NEVER HAD ANY VOCAL TRAINING. I BOUGHT THOSE JIM GILLETE CASSETTES OUT OF A METAL MAG IN ABOUT 1988 AND WORKED WITH THOSE A LITTLE. I THINK IT HELPED ME LEARN HOW TO SING PROPERLY WITHOUT BLOWING MY VOICE OUT. OTHER THAN THAT I JUST TRY HARD!
Not that I care a whole lot, but what ever happened to Janet Rubin?
AS FAR AS I KNOW SHE IS NOW A PROFESSIONAL OPERA SINGER IN GERMANY. GREAT VOICE!
What is the preferred drink before heading the call to a crowd of rabid metal maniacs before a performance?
NO DOUBT IT IS JAEGERMEISTER! IT IS A RITUAL FOR ME! JUST A FEW SHOTS BEFORE GOING ON. IT REALLY OPENS UP MY LUNGS WITH THAT MENTHOL VAPOR ACTION.(YEA RIGHT! HA HA!) GOOD IMPORTED BEER IS ALSO A MUST HAVE!
Twisted Tower Dire have really made a name for themselves as True Heavy Metal in the Metal underground. Are TTD on a quest to getting as big as they possibly can? What do you think of the big name Power Metal bands like Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, Helloween, Primal Fear, etc.?
OUR MAIN GOAL IS TOO HAVE FUN, NOT TAKE OURSELVES TOO SERIOUSLY AND WRITE GOOD SONGS. WHATEVER HAPPENS, HAPPENS.THE MAIN PROBLEM I HAVE WITH THE BANDS YOU MENTIONED IS THAT THEIR SOUND IS VERY "COOKIE CUTTER" MEANING THE FIRST SONG ON THEIR ALBUM SOUNDS JUST LIKE THE LAST SONG.THEY AREN'T REALLY UNIQUE SOUNDING.I THINK THEY ARE ALL VERY TALENTED AND SOME OF THEM ARE DOING A GREAT JOB IN MAKING METAL MORE WIDELY ACCEPTED SO I APPLAUD THEM FOR THIS.DON'T GET ME WRONG WE (TTD) AREN'T REALLY BREAKING ANY NEW GROUND EITHER BUT WE REALLY TRY TO MAKE OUR ALBUMS INTERESTING FROM START TO FINISH.
Nowadays, it seems trends are coming and going about as quick as they come and more and more bands are popping up from out of nowhere. Where do you see Twisted Tower Dire and the metal scene in general in say 5 to 10 years from now?
I TRULY SEE US DOING THE SAME THINGS WE ARE DOING NOW. I'M SURE WE WILL TRY NEW THINGS BUT REST ASSURED IT WILL STILL BE METAL.
What is the best and worst show in your opinion, that Twisted Tower Dire ever played?
OUR BEST SHOW WAS PROBABLY THE HEADBANGERS OPEN AIR FEST LAST YEAR. GREAT FUCKING CROWD A VERY COOL PARTY.PLUS WE KICKED ASS! THE WORST SHOW CAME AT A VERY DIFFICULT TIME IN OUR HISTORY.I WAS ON THE VERGE OF LEAVING THE BAND DUE TO SOME PROBLEMS WE HAD ON OUR 2000 EUROPEAN TOUR. OUR FIRST SHOW BACK IN THE STATES WAS IN A BAR IN CHANTILLY VA. HALF THE BAND WAS SO FUCKING DRUNK THEY COULD BARELY PLAY. IT WAS A NIGHTMARE AND VERY EMBARRASSING TO ME.I WAS REALLY READY TO LEAVE THEN.THANKFULLY THE GUYS GOT THEIR SHIT TOGETHER AND WE HAVEN'T HAD A PROBLEM SINCE.I'M VERY PROUD OF THIS BAND FOR OVERCOMING LOT'S OF OBSTACLES.
What are some of your favorite bands that you think still kick ass after all these years, how about new bands that you've really taken a liking to?
THIS IS A TOUGHIE DUDE! IT WOULD BE MUCH EASIER TO POINT OUT ALL THE BANDS WHO BLOW NOW.(FATES WARNING,JUDAS PRIEST, QUEENSRYCHE) ON THE POSITVE THOUGH I'D HAVE TO SAY IRON MAIDEN. THEY STILL WRITE QUALITY STUFF AND PUT ON A GREAT SHOW. THEY'RE STILL PRETTY TRUE TO THEIR ORIGINAL SOUND.
One last question. If Twisted Tower Dire disbanded (gasp! haha), and you could take the place of any front-man/woman in Heavy Metal. Who would it be and why?
I'D BE FRONTING IRON MAIDEN OF COURSE!! (HA HA) I JUST LOVE THEIR MUSIC THEIR LYRICS AND THEIR DEDICATION. TO ME THEY ARE THE GREATEST METAL BAND OF ALL TIME.
From all of us at Maximum Metal, I'd like to once again say thank you Tony, for taking the time and doing this interview. We wish you well with everything you and your band does in the future! Any last words?
I ONLY HOPE THAT ALL METALHEADS FROM ALL THE "SUB-GENRES" COULD UNITE, STOP ALL THE SILLY ASS SHIT TALKING AND TRYING TO KNOCK EACH OTHER DOWN. NOTHING BUGS ME MORE THAN THOSE WHO PROFESS THEY ARE HUGE SUPPORTERS OF THE SCENE BUT ALL THEY DO IS TALK TRASH.I'M CONFIDENT IN THE TRUE SUPPORTERS OF METAL (LIKE YOU JOSH) TO RISE UP AND UNITE PEOPLE. TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER WITH ACTIONS, NOT FLIMSY DECLARATIONS OF SUPPORT. TTD IS ALL OVER THE PLACE THIS SPRING AND SUMMER, PLEASE CHECK OUT OUR TOUR DATES AND COME UP AND SAY HI AT A SHOW.
Agent of Steel
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