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. Answered by vocalist Eric Savanis – The Occult.
To begin with, it would be best if you introduced your band.
First off, I’m Eric, lead singer & songwriter for The Occult. We are a metal punk rock n roll band from Montreal, Canada.
Is it hard to keep all the members together since this music has no income?
I mean we all know what we signed up for, it’s like any other business where you have to build it. If you are a good band with good songs it’s pretty much a matter of time before people pick up on that so we know that not making money off of this is temporary and will come in due time.
How do you finance yourself and can you cover the costs of recording, equipment, and concerts with music?
We all work day jobs so we can pay for the things we need for the band. When you open up a new business, whether it’s a band or whatever else you need to invest time and money to make it grow so we’ll happily do that for The Occult because it’s certainly worth it.
What made you start playing metal music? Who were your role models in the beginning and has that changed over time?
I don’t think we’re a metal band per se, but I definitely operate through that lens since metal is my first love and is usually my go-to music-wise. The Occult is a band that plays, metal at times, punk at times, and rock n roll at times. It’s usually a blend of those styles among other influences that might not be so obvious. There were pockets of scenes: the thrash metal of the ’80s, the New York stuff in the late 80’s/early 90, particularly bands like Life of Agony, Warrior Soul, Type O Negative and the Seatle scene with bands like Soundgarden, Nirvana & Alice in Chains who were monstrously influential. In terms of personal heroes, if I had to pick one it would be James Hetfield. When I saw the One video that’s when it all changed for me and when I realized what I wanted to do with my life.
Is it hard to find a publisher or is it better to self-publish considering the internet?
Publisher? You mean a label? I mean we’re an independent band so we do everything ourselves so we self-released our record on August 19th and it’s everywhere so people can buy it on Bandcamp and support us or simply stream it if that’s what they prefer.
What have you published so far?
We released our 1st record on August 19th and are pretty happy with the response so far. We are currently mixing a new song and the plan is to release it the end of October so things are definitely moving in the right direction
How do you create songs, how do you record them?
Having written all the material thus far, I pretty much wrote everything at home, in my home studio. A lot of the time, it can start with a vocal melody that could end up being a chorus. Sometimes I’ll come up with the music first and then see what themes fit the mood and try to match the lyrics to that color. Other times a line in a movie or a show could inspire me to write something. It really depends you know?
Where do you get inspiration for the lyrics?
Movies, literature, shows, or even life itself. It really depends on the song. If it’s political then it usually manifests from my disgust with a system that threw everyone overboard. If it’s fiction it can really come from anywhere.
What is your favorite song you’ve made so far and why?
There are so many to pick from, to be honest, it’s hard to pick just one. They’re some songs we haven’t played live yet from the record, like Occupy Unite or Gotta Love Those Humans which I’m looking forward to playing live because they’re great. It’s Amateur Hour is up there for sure.
Where can readers listen to you and maybe buy your material?
Anyone who supports the band can do so by buying our record from our Bandcamp page, be it on CD or in digital format.
How do you organize concerts, is it difficult for you, and how many people come to such concerts?
It’s certainly a lot of work but it’s part of the job and I’d rather be doing this than anything else so I’m certainly not complaining. Our record launch had 75 people there which for a band that has existed less than a year on the live front isn’t bad at all. Obviously, our goal is to grow but I’d rather it build organically than get so big that we all lose our minds hehe.
In which countries have you played and where did you have the best time, where is the crowd the craziest?
We have only played in our country of Canada thus far. There’s no point in planning international tours when a band can’t sell out big venues in their hometown. Once things get bigger, we’ll start setting our sites over the horizon & plan accordingly.
What do you think about the digital release and is it serious like CD or LP?
I don’t think it is, to be honest. I’m a physical copy type of guy and find that digital just doesn’t sound as good. Growing up in the 80s we would buy records and just stare at the cover and get lost in the art while we listened to the music. It’s cool to see vinyl making a comeback in the last couple of years because having it on your phone just isn’t the same.
Was metal music more honest than today?
I have no idea haha. I suppose that’s up to the bands and their respective motivations. What I will say is there hasn’t been a band that has come out and blown my socks off. Where’s the next Metallica, the next Iron Maiden? I have no idea but I haven’t heard it yet
How do you comment on this bunch of sub-genres in metal and is it good for metal or is it destroying it?
You’re asking a guy who’s still listening to Painkiller By Judas Priest every week hehe. I really don’t pay attention to any of that stuff. If the song is good then great, I’ll go digging into the bands or artists’ records. If it sucks well, you get the point.
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?
To be honest I don’t concern myself with celebrities and the clothes they wear. With that being said, if it opens a door for someone to go listen to a good band then that’s fine with me.
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?
I make sure Cliff Burton didn’t die somehow, that would be awesome. That time was certainly magical, to say the least as there was a sense of mystery to everything. Other than magazine/zines interviews or stuff on MTV, there wasn’t really a way to know anything about your favorite band. Personally, while the internet is cool and presents a lot of opportunities for bands, that mystique died as a result of it and it’s unfortunate because it was a huge part of it.
How important is supporting the local scene and can you single out a band from your area that you would recommend to our readers?
If I had to pick one it would be House of Dusk. It’s Gianni Barretta’s band, who played bass and help me engineer our record. His stuff is just monstrous and everyone should check it out.
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?
Considering how the West forced Russia’s hand into this escalation who knows how worse it can get. What Putin is doing is despicable and inexcusable but they had negotiations going and Boris Johnson stepped in there and somehow managed to fuck it all up. And now Putin is talking about murdering the West with nuclear bombs. It’s so insane it’s hard to even talk about it, to be honest.
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?
Because the record is great hehe and everyone should buy it. Our motto in the band is simple, buy our stuff so we can buy groceries!!!