Posted on August 8th. 2017
Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
Jason: Hello Trey and welcome to Metal To Infinity. I’d like to thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to speak with us. Your band Azrael’s Bane is based out of Houston, Texas. Is that where you’re originally from and is there much of a metal scene in Houston, Texas these days?
Trey: There is a metal scene in Houston but I’d call it “intimate”. There are lots of great musicians and a handful of really good bands but metal definitely isn’t as popular as it once was. A lot of the metal musicians know and are supportive of each other. Many of us have played together in other bands over the years. The local fans are incredibly loyal though. They’ve supported us since day one through thick and thin.
Jason: Who were the bands/Musicians who influenced you when you were growing up?
Trey: The usual suspects. I was and still am a huge fan of the greats like Dio, Maiden, and Priest, but I was pretty into the LA bands like Motley and Dokken when I was a kid too.
Jason: While I know you’re the lead singer in the band Trey, I wanted to ask you in addition to singing if you play any instruments or has singing been your main gig for most of your professional musical career?
Trey: I also play guitar. I don’t do it much in Bane, mostly because there is no need with two great players like Jeff and Chuck but I do write on guitar and play it in other projects.
Jason: I know that your band Azrael’s Bane was formed in 2001. I was curious if you could please share with us how you initially hooked up with the other guys in the band and came to form Azrael’s Bane?
Trey: Jeff Clifton and I were in a band prior to Bane for several years. When that band broke up we decided to continue our partnership with a new band. We had jammed with Brent and Donny (Bragg, original drummer) in a one off side project previously and we were all good friends. We got in the rehearsal room and started throwing ideas around and It came together very quickly.
Jason: I know that coming up with a band name is always one of the toughest things when forming a band. Could you share the story on how you came up with that name? Great name by the way!
Trey: Brent came up with “Azrael” which we all liked but found out that it was already taken. I came up with the “Bane” idea and it just kind of stuck. I wish there was a great story behind it, but the truth is, we just thought it sounded cool.
Jason: The band has released two albums to date and I know this may be a tough thing to do but if you had to pick which Azrael’s album would you say is your favorite, you know the one album that you personally feel represents what the band is all about best?
Trey: That is tough. I think the second album is probably a better representation just because it is more collaborative. Jeff and I wrote some of the first record before Azrael’s Bane was formed, but everything, other than one song, on the second record comes from the collaborative efforts of the five of us.
Jason: I know that in 2017 that the band has re-released both albums……Talk about the band’s decision to re-issue the two albums and if fans who already have the original versions of the albums will get anything extra on the re-issues?
Trey: It’s a bit of a long story, but, in 2008, while we were nearing completion of the second record, our label went out of business, so we were stuck with a finished record but no deal and a large studio bill. At the time I was very frustrated with the industry, the band was a bit burned out and in need of a break and we just weren’t motivated to do much.
We took a break and decided to table the record for the time being. We pressed a few copies ourselves and sold a few here and there, but there was no real distribution. We never sent any out for review or anything, so in reality, the Modern Day Babylon record is new to most of the world. Fast forward to 2016 and the band is active again and looking for a new deal. We thought packaging both records as a re-release along with some bonus material was the best way to go and our new label agreed. The new release comes with new packaging and is remastered. It includes two bonus tracks that aren’t on the earlier versions as well.
Jason: Being that you’re the Lead Singer Trey I have to ask if you’re the primary songwriter in the band or does everyone in the band get the opportunity to take part in the songwriting process?
Trey: Oh no, not at all. I write most of the lyrics and melodies these days but the music is usually written by the rest of the guys. Occasionally one of us will come in with a more or less complete song, but most of our stuff comes from the five of us bouncing ideas off of each other. We don’t have a set in stone way of writing. We’ve done it a lot of different ways over the years but everyone in the band contributes to the writing process.
Jason: Back in 2009 the band made the decision to split up for a few years. What led to the band’s breaking up in 2009?
Trey: As I mentioned earlier, we were all a bit frustrated with the industry at the time, and just a little burned out. We had spent a lot of time on the road for the 6 or 7 years prior and everyone just needed a little time off. None of us intended for the break to last so long though.
Jason: I read on the band’s official FACEBOOK page that in 2013 the band made the decision to get back together after a close friend/former crew members passed away and the band initially got back together to play a memorial concert in his honor. Talk a little bit about this Close friend that the band lost and how his passing brought the band back together?
Trey: Gio May was a member of our crew and a very close friend. His passing was sudden and unexpected and it hit all of us very hard. We all kind of rallied around one another when it happened and that eventually led to talk of getting back in a rehearsal room and making some music again. It was just time. I like to think Gio would be thrilled to see us back in action.
Jason: Talk a little bit about that memorial Concert……I mean what was the response the band got after playing that show? Being that at that point in 2013 that the band had not played together since 2009 what was it like being back together?
Trey: Our first time on stage together again was pretty much magic. It felt very comfortable to me, like putting on an old and well broken in pair of boots for the first time in a few years.
Jason: Between 2009 and 2013 did you and the other members of the band stay in touch or did everyone kind of go their separate ways up until getting back together in 2013?
Trey: Our break had a lot more to do with frustration with the industry than it did with any personal issues within the band. Life gets challenging sometimes and we all had personal stuff we were dealing with but we have always maintained contact with each other. We’re all good friends and we’d still see each other at BBQs and the like all the time. Those guys are my brothers. They’re family.
Jason: Between 2009-2013 Trey were you involved in any other bands or did you simply take a break from the music industry during those years?
Trey: I started a side project called “Dead Man’s Hand” during the break that I’m still doing today. It’s a different genre, more of a Southern Rock type thing. It was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. Jeff helped me out with it initially and Brent is still in that band with me. Most of the rest of the guys took on other projects as well.
Jason: Does Azrael’s Band get much of a chance to tour outside of your local Texas area?
Trey: We haven’t lately but we have been all over the country in the past. We’re looking into opportunities to do some of that again. None of us wants to jump in a bus for months at a time any more, but we are looking at fly ins and short tours based around fly in festivals etc.
Jason: Now that the band has been back together since 2013 has there been any talk of going into the recording studio to record any new music?
Trey: There sure is. We owe our new label another record so we are in the process of writing it right now. We’re still a ways out from getting in the studio with it, but we are making good progress and hope to have another record out sooner than later.
Jason: In regards the current state of the music industry and how fans choose to purchase their music do you think the band will continue to release full length CDs or maybe like a lot of bands decide to release maybe a few tracks at a time?
Trey: That will depend on how our label wants to do it. They generally take the more traditional route so I think that’s how it will probably go. Left to our own devices I think we might release a song or two at a time and eventually package the entire record. It’s much easier to do economically.
Jason: In regards to the current state of the music industry I have to ask do you have a preference between physical CDs vs. digital downloads where people can often by a single track at a time VS. an entire album?
Trey: I miss the days of ripping the plastic off a new record and reading the liner while listening to it for the first time, but, I have to admit that I haven’t bought a physical record in years. Downloading is so much more convenient.
Jason: I was curious Trey if music is what you do 100% of the time or do you like a lot of musicians these days have a day job to help support your musical career?
Trey: Oh no. I’d starve to death if music was my only source of income. I’ve got kids and a mortgage these days, so I have another career that treats me well.
Jason: How do you feel about fans who come to your concerts and hold a cell phone up during the entire show, and then go home and download the whole show on YOUTUBE for other people to see?
Trey: I don’t have a problem with it at all. It’s just more exposure for us.
Jason: Is there an album in your collection Trey that you can point to and say that’s the one album that really had a huge influence on me, even to this day and played a major role in me becoming a professional musician myself?
Trey: That is a great question. I don’t think I can name just one. There are many. Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell”, Maiden’s “Piece of Mind” and Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime” are a few that come to mind that really impacted me.
Jason: Anything else to say to all the Azrael’s fans out there Trey?
Trey: I’d like to thank everyone for their interest and support. We couldn’t do any of it without them, so thank you! Keep in touch with us on our websites and we’ll hope to see everyone soon!
Jason: Thanks again Trey for doing this. We really do appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.
Trey: Thank you for the interest!!!