Posted on July 05. 2017
Questionnaire by Stefan on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM
My good old friend and longtime brother in US Metal Rico (aka Officer Nice) wrote at the beginning of his review for the almighty Witherfall album about my thoughts quitting with this humble homepage called Metal To Infinity. To be honest, it really hurts deep down inside because MTI is my brainchild started back in the early 2000 and it isn’t easy to leave it all behind ! I hear you thinking, if it doesn’t feels good… keep on going on brother but there is more in life than running an Underground Metal website, I’m talking about health! I’m doing my utmost but it’s getting harder to write reviews, setting up interviews, to maintain the whole thing on my own.
Self-pity does not help anything, I know but a fact is a fact so now I’m still thinking to go on with MTI or to quit. Trust me, I’m taking everything into serious consideration and to be honest, I don’t think to leave MTI behind that easy. One of the main reasons not to quit would be my passion for the almighty US Metal movement ! Running into my veins since the very early 80s, I can’t live without my daily dose of US Metal music… and that’s not a lie ! Along with MTI we came in touch with so many awesome US bands to promote their music, as always the pleasure and full dignity was completely ours. Great acts from the US are still on the rise, this time I want to have a conversation with Joseph Michael, lead singer/keyboardist in newcomer Witherfall. MTI co-editor Officer Nice down his thoughts on their world class, independent release “Nocturnes and Requiems”
Stefan: Welcome here at Metal To Infinity Webzine Belgium, as longtime US Metal maniacs we’re very proud with your presence. First things first, congrats with the release of your fantastic debut “Nocturnes And Requiems”… what a SUPERB effort I’d like to describe my favourite one at the moment (probably my number one recording of 2017). Where do you guys actually come from and what about the current Metal scene up there?
Joseph: Jake Dreyer and I played in another band before and when that band fell apart we decided to get together and see if we had writing chemistry. The first couple of hours together we had the basics for a few songs that become Nocturnes and Requiems. Jake and Adam Sagan also worked together on The “In the Shadows of Madness” Solo album Jake put out a few years prior.
Stefan: Founded by guitarist Jake Dreyer well-known from his contribution with other acts like Iced Earth and ex-White Wizzard/Jag Panzer. What were the ambitions setting up a band like Witherfall?
Jake: The idea of Witherfall was to have a metal band that had no boundaries to it and could do whatever we wanted to stylistically and songwriting . I wanted to write music that had a very high level of musicianship but at the same time had songs and melodies that were memorable. Basically a band that musicians could really get into as well as the common listener.
Stefan: Both Jake and yourself teamed up in White Wizzard and due to my everlasting admiration for US Metal, I’d like to ask for a little background history of this band as well.
Joseph: Well there really is no story. Jake and I played on a record with them and we moved on to better things.
Stefan: Wo were the other guys those who joined forces later on – did they previously played in other acts?
Jake: Adam Sagan had previously played in Into Eternity and Circle II Circle. Adam and I both worked on an EP I did in 2010. We had always talked about doing something together again and above that I really loved the way he would compose drum parts. They always were very well thought out and fit to the songs perfectly. Anthony Crawford was a session bassist that we found out about by his stints with playing with the late legendary jazz fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth and drummer Virgil Donati. His musical depth allowed him to write some really cool bass lines for this record that a typical metal bassist would never have thought of.
Stefan: While checking Witherfall’s biography, I’ve read something about a critically acclaimed debut instrumental EP, “In The Shadows Of Madness”, which included a featured track for the popular video game franchise Rock Band. Will you please provide me with a little more detailed information concerning all of this?
Jake: I first met Adam during those recording sessions and instantly became a big fan of the way he was arrange his drum parts. That along with the fact that he had a great attitude and work ethic made it a very enjoyable time to work with him. In the Shadows of Madness was just an instrumental ep I did right after high school as a way to get myself out there. Eps and demos are pretty much the best business cards you can have in the music industry so that was my way of doing that. Rock band wanted to use the track Harmony of the Spheres as one of their downloadable songs to be featured in the game. Along with Adam ITSM featured Noah Martin on bass who also plays with the US death metal band Arsis.
Stefan: Moving on to Phoenix, Arizona for the recordings of your debut “N.A.R.”, you’ve worked with a few famous guys like Ralph Patlan and Chris Harris. How the entire recording process went on and how this way collaboration came to be?
Jake: Joseph and I wrote and did pre-production on all the songs for Nocturnes and Requiems in Los Angeles during that time two separate trips were made to Minneapolis for pre-production with Adam to arrange his drum parts. Ralph Patlan was hired on to be the tracking engineer and was originally going to mix the album but constant delays on his end caused him to be removed of those duties and handed over to Chris “Zeuss” Harris who was recommended to me by my friend
Chris Broderick Zeuss did a really fantastic job with knowing how to treat sections.
Joseph: Yeah, we had all the tempo maps, keyboards scratch tracks done at my place. We worked with Ralph on tracking and that process went along great until it was time for him to mix the album. He either just couldn’t do it or didn’t care because we had already paid him in advance. Chris Zeuss Harris came along and saved the project from the grave.
Stefan: My deepest condolences to your fallen hero, drummer Adam Sagan who died on December 07, 2016 – must have been a big loss due to he was very important to the band, right?
Joseph: Yes it was. We became very close making this record. The Name “Nocturnes and Requiems” was his.
Stefan: How have you been able to experience Adam’s way of living, what type of musician was he?
Joseph: A neurotic one. No seriously, he was a great writer as far as percussion goes. It will be very hard to find someone with the mind and technique he had.
Stefan: I’m sure that he never will be forgotten, he definitely rest in peace in US Metal heaven right now and maybe you got a final message for your brother? Feel free to do.
Joseph: Seinfeld Sagan if your out there we are going to one day put raw meat on your proverbial kitchen counter again.
Stefan: “Nocturnes And Requiems” has been dedicated To Adam – do you mind to guide us through some of the lyrical contents?
Joseph: The lyrics were written when he was with us… They are mostly about different states of mind. For instance, “Nobody Sleeps Here…” is a ballad albet a heavy ballad about Anxiety and panic attacks.
Stefan: How would you like to define the album yourself – have you read Officer Nice’s review so far such as been published at:http://cdreviewsw.metaltoinfinity.be/witherfall-nocturnes-and-requiems-independent/ What’s your comment on the discussion?
Jake: I think Nocturnes and Requiems definitely conquered our goal of creating something very unique to the genre of metal. The album has a lot of layers texturally and in the compositions which is something that I think will take the audience a few listens to fully understand what is all going on.
Joseph: We are not writing music that fits neatly in some box that can be packaged and sold. You have to want to experience something more if you are going to like this record.
Stefan: The great Testament dedicated ‘Into The Pit’ to Adam Sagan recently which is such a beautiful gesture, he must have been a very grateful musician in the world of Metal, right?
Joseph: Adam was universally loved. For all we know he may have multicultural children all over the world.
Stefan: Through your official homepage, fans get the opportunity to cast their vote with the eye on finding a director for the records of Withefall’s first video. Some more detaisl would be good to know.
Jake: We have been talking with multiple directors our problem is that we tend to be control freaks when it comes to the art direction and our main goal is that everything must be of quality and fit the vision that we consider a priority in showcasing Witherfall. Were still trying to find the right director that has the right treatment for our songs.
Stefan: What are the plans for the upcoming festival months and beyond?
Joseph: probably looking at next festival season. The record came out a little too late. With Adam passing we had the monumental task of replacing him.
Stefan: Here in Belgium, we have Iced Earth on stage during the annual feast on Hard Rock and Metal called Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival. Witherfall member Jake Dreyer on Belgian soil and be sure that I will be there. Maybe the rest of the band will join him and take a flight to Belgium as well?
Joseph: I’ll be here in the States holding down the fort and working on the next record.
If the promoters of Alcatraz want to book Witherfall for a future appearance please do! I aways look forward to playing in Belgium the crowds are very exciting.
Stefan: I truly hope that Witherfall’s debut album “Nocturnes And Requiems” can lead to an international breakthrough, really ! Such a godlike/beautiful masterpiece must be heard in every corner of the world, fans of excellent US ProgPower Metal have no reason to avoid this crazy band. Where can they order the album and other merchandise Joseph?
Stefan: I bet you will be signed by a major label soon ! If this is not the case, something’s really go wrong in the world of Metal. All the best with the band and be sure, we at MTI spread the word as good as possible. Bands like Witherfall, we just love it with all of our heart!! Some last comments before leaving, go for it brother… THANK YOU !
Joseph: Thank you for having us, and giving us the honor of possibly being the last interview. See you on the road soon.