Review Fix: How did you guys get together?
Shane Wacaster: I was walking down the hall when I was a sophomore in high school and I overheard Dan telling someone that he had a guitar and an amp. This was 1985 or 1986 and I had just seen my first concert which happened to be Motley Cure. I walked up and said “you have a guitar?’ and when he replied yes I told him I had a set of drums. He came over to my house that afternoon with a gorilla 25-watt amp and an Ibanez and we jammed horribly on seek and destroy by Metallica all day. It sounded like cats scratching their own eyes out!
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Wacaster: Dan comes up with a riff and I play some drums to it to give it a bit of structure and we take it from there or else I’ll sing to a melody Dan has in mind and build on it or I’ll come up with something from scratch. Both of us only need a small push from each other to get a song steamrolling. Sometimes Dan already has a vocal melody in mind as he’s writing. That’s how ‘halls of mourning’ came about. He had the verse melody already in mind and I just took it from there. If we get to a point where we’re stuck and have to brainstorm, then we usually set it aside and work on something else, because music is supposed to be creative and freeflowing, not forced. I think if you force a song to happen, it’s going to suck.
Review Fix: What do you think makes this band special?
Wacaster: We’re able to take advantage of opportunities we never had before. We’ve definitely paid our dues a million times over when we were a no-kidding road touring band. We stayed in some of the worst accommodations ever, we played sick all the time; I even slipped in dog shit once…on stage! Can you believe that? We were in North Dakota, I’m carrying a bass drum to the drum riser and slipped in something right in the middle of the stage…I look down and it’s a pile of dog shit. We put up with the whole ‘pay to play’ scene in L.A.; we watched our genre of metal forced out by grunge. We laid low for years. No record companies would give us the time of day back then because you either needed a thousand fans at every show or you needed to look a certain way, and you had to be grunge or alternative. Every label said the same thing: metal is dead and it’s never coming back. It’s sickening really, when you look back at all of the talent that was overlooked. Nowadays we don’t report to anyone. No one tells us which songs can be on the album, no one tells us what our album cover art needs to be and no one gives us deadlines. That’s because we own the record label. Crushing notes entertainment is our brainchild, and we want to take bands that are languishing in obscurity and get their vision pressed onto CD and get it out there. We did hypocrites and senses to prove that we can actually handle every aspect ourselves and it’s relatively painless. We had some things to learn of course, you know, some recording secrets that no one wants to talk about, but we’re catching up quickly.
Review Fix: How would you describe your style?
Wacaster: That’s interesting because it’s ‘80s metal but it doesn’t sound like anyone else. You can hear influences all over it such as Priest, Accept, Savatage, etc. But you can’t pin anything down long enough to say that we sound like anyone else. And all of it is unintentional; it just comes out in our writing. I believe every musician is a sum of everything they’ve ever listened to. The only constant to our style is a strange darkness and I don’t know why that is.
Review Fix: What are your goals for this album?
Wacaster: We’re music fans, and being music fans, we respect the packaging around the music as much as the music itself. We want fans to enjoy this album by having a good production of course, but also lyrics without typos and killer album art. I hate it when I buy an album that has no lyrics. I hate it when the record company sacrifices quality in order to save a buck. For instance, you buy a CD, open it and the plastic teeth that hold the CD fall out, or else the front of the case is cracked, etc, and you open the cheap booklet but it’s empty inside! We commissioned J.P. Fournier to do the artwork; we explained our vision and he added his thoughts and he executed a stunning package. So we want a fan that buys our album to enjoy the layout as well as the music so that the album has its proper place in their collection.
Review Fix: What’s the standout song? Is there a story behind it?
Wacaster: Dom, which is an acronym for dark matter obscura, gets a lot of airplay. DMO is a secret government agency that controls everything. They’re so secret, the government isn’t sure they exist. Just like dark matter in the universe, which until recently we didn’t understand, do is the same way: they’re in plain sight but they’re so good at what they do, we don’t notice them at all. There is a story behind all of our songs. I’ll never write lyrics that say something like or something like that. I’d rather the listeners have something to think about, such as ‘what if?’ or ‘imagine that’, ya know? Put yourself in the character of ‘kill or be killed’ and see the devil watching over the battlefield, or watch ‘lady painted death’ draw her last breath, literally and figuratively. Walk through the ‘halls of mourning’ looking at all of the dead rock stars.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Wacaster: Next is a concept album. We’re keeping the topic a secret for now, but 11 songs are written; they just need fleshing out and demoing before we set up the recording sessions. J.P. is doing the artwork again and I can’t wait to see what he does! It will be an awesome 6-panel digipak again. The targeted release date is July 2017.