When we started Metal Jacket Magazine, we wanted to somehow bring our readers closer to bands that might have a harder time breaking through to listeners in the sea of bands and music.
To begin with, it would be best if you introduced your band.
The band is myself, Brad King – guitar and vocals, Sean Skillen, – bass and backup vocals ,and Simon Paquette -drums.
Is it hard to keep all the members together since this music has no income?
I tend not to play with people who are overly concerned with the financial end of things because if we wanted to make money playing music, we’d probably be playing different music. In the past, it’s been hard to find people who are reliable and professional and who take the band seriously. Everyone in the band right now is on board with all of those things and that’s why we’ve been doing well recently.
How do you finance yourself and can you cover the costs of recording, equipment, and concerts with music?
I paid out of pocket for a lot of things in the beginning. Good quality gear is pretty expensive, especially if your amp blows up or needs to be re-tubed or if you crack an expensive cymbal (all of these have happened recently). We usually make a little bit of money playing shows and selling merch but we’re still probably in the hole at the end of the day. We had some grant money awarded to us by the Canada Council for the Arts which allowed us to make this album and the accompanying videos, so that really helped us survive through the pandemic.
What made you start playing metal music? Who were your role models in the beginning and has that changed over time?
I’ve been playing music since I was 14 or something like that. Metallica is one of the first bands I gravitated toward. Black Sabbath, stuff like that. I always liked Nirvana, Black Flag.
Is it hard to find a publisher or is it better to self-publish considering the internet?
We’ve self-released our first two albums. The internet definitely provides a lot of opportunities for new music to be heard but there’s so much of it out there. For us, if the right label offered us the opportunity, that would be great. There’s just more ability to reach people with a label but if you’re a small-time band, waiting around to be signed, your chances are pretty slim.
What have you published so far?
We released a 2 song demo in 2016, our debut album “Pariahs,” in 2019 and our newest album “Regrets,” which is out November 25th, 2022.
How do you create songs, how do you record them?
This is our first album writing together. We recorded demos for each other, which were anything from a couple of riffs to a completed song, and then we brought them into the jam space and worked on them and refined them as a band. Our bass player Sean is a very talented recording engineer, who joined the band during the recording of our last album, so we record with him at his studio, which is called Exit Music. He mixes the album and then we send it off to Brad Boatright at Audiosiege for mastering.
Where do you get inspiration for the lyrics?
I tend to write about social issues or personal issues. I’ve been a social service worker, working in harm reduction and homelessness for a lot of years, so I’ve seen and experienced a lot. I’ve also had my own experiences with mental health and trauma, so there’s a lot there to draw on. The current state of the world and the erosion of truth we’ve seen from the media and people in positions of authority has inspired a lot of this album.
What is your favorite song you’ve made so far and why?
One of our first singles from this album is called the Priest. It’s about the abuses of the church here in Canada. It might be the most intense thing we’ve come up with. It’s got a lot of twists and turns and dynamic shifts and I think it came out just about perfect. Honestly, though, I like the whole album. It turned out great.
Where can readers listen to you and maybe buy your material?
You can check us out on all the platforms; Bandcamp, Spotify, YouTube, and probably a few I don’t ever remember. Bandcamp is the best place to buy digital and physical media and merch. facebook.com/alienatorband, instagram.com/alienatorband.
How do you organize concerts, is it difficult for you, and how many people come to such concerts?
We have some local venues that put on shows. Sometimes we put on our own shows, like our album release party coming up. We’ve had some pretty packed shows since the pandemic ended.
In which countries have you played and where did you have the best time, where is the crowd the craziest?
We’ve only played in one country so far – Canada. I’ve toured the USA in other bands I’ve played in but that’s pretty difficult nowadays without an expensive visa and our country is pretty huge, not to mention the price of gas. We’d love to travel to Europe or something like that someday but we’ll see what opportunities present themselves.
What do you think about the digital release and is it serious like CD or LP?
Digital is the way most people consume music nowadays. People have a different type of connection with physical media, especially vinyl but vinyl is so expensive, it’s cost-prohibitive for a lot of bands like ourselves. Folks might take you more seriously if you have your album on vinyl, but you’ve gotta play a lot of shows and hustle if you want to sell a decent amount of it as an independent band.
Was metal music more honest than today?
Interesting question. I think we all have nostalgia for the music we grew up on and there’s always a mystique about the music of the past. There are probably a lot of weak bands in the mainstream right now but there are also a ton of great bands in the underground. You just have to dig a little deeper sometimes.
How do you comment on this bunch of sub-genres in metal and is it good for metal or is it destroying it?
Another interesting question. I think the constant need to define and categorize every sub-genre can be tiresome sometimes – Is that blacked stoner sludge doom? Or like gothic Viking, power metal? I think when bands that are branching out and doing things that sound new and interesting, it’s always a good thing, even if it’s not to my taste. Things have to change and evolve or they get stale.
Do you support this commercialization of metal music and how about the wearing of metal t-shirts by some “exposed” people who do not belong to this philosophy of metal music?
Well, I play heavy music and I’ve played shows wearing a Leonard Cohen t-shirt. I don’t really care. If someone wants to buy a Slayer t-shirt and walk around the mall, then good for them. It’s not like a lot of these bands are our little secret anymore. A lot of heavy music is pretty mainstream. There have always been poseurs in the world and if they want to buy merch, they’re allowed to.
What would you change in the world of metal and would you like to go back to the time before the internet if you remember it at all?
Yeah, I’m old, I remember the world before the internet. I mean, now that I have it, I wouldn’t want to give it up. Before we had access to all the music, all the time and you had to go to great effort to discover bands and find albums, it may have felt more special, but having the world at your fingertips is pretty great.
How important is supporting the local scene and can you single out a band from your area that you would recommend to our readers?
Awww damn. Well, I don’t want to leave anybody out really. Femur is a good one. They’re very popular in these parts. We play with a psych stoner band called Shatterhorn a lot, they’re cool. Chemical Bank is a cool psych-rock band. Bury is a doom band. They’re good. Lots of talented people in this part of the world.
How do you see this situation in the world and how do you think it will develop? Will they imprison us again, scare us or maybe send us into a big war?
Wow, you certainly don’t avoid the tough questions. Well, if you’re living in Russia right now, the draft is happening obviously. I’m of Ukrainian heritage, and so is our bass player and a lot of others in Thunder Bay. It seems like there’s a civil war brewing in the United States right now. That’s what we wrote the song “Flat Earth Society,” about; the revolution of the stupid that’s happening. It’s spread to Canada as well, with the COVID deniers and such. I get pretty pessimistic about the state of the world sometimes but you just have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Finally, what would you say to our readers and why should they listen to you in the sea of bands that are offered to them every day?
I’ll just say this. If you’re into tough guy stuff, that’s not us. We don’t wear make-up or leather pants or anything like that. I’d say if you like intense, dark, creative music, give us a try.