Friday, February 24, 2023

Setting Goals and Finding a Mentor with Chris #2 of ANTI-FLAG

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Chris #2 of the band Anti-Flag about their new album ‘Lies They Tell Our Children’ out now via Spinefarm Records.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as setting goals and finding a mentor.

‘Lies They Tell Our Children’ was produced by Jon Lundin (Good Charlotte, Senses Fail, Sleeping With Sirens).

For fans of Pennywise, Authority Zero, The Bouncing Souls, NOFX, Bad Religion.


Guest Resource - Connect with Anti-Flag!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Set goals and build constraints around the creation of your record to help guide you and create success points

2. Reinvent your marketing strategy to fit your needs

3. Having a mentor steeped in the industry to help provide real guidance


Asher Media Relations: Doing PR for everything loud! For your band needs to be seen and heard in print, online and radio!  Let Asher know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Tue Madsen: Tue Madsen is responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the best metal for over the last 20 years.  Let Tue know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Syndicol Music: A full service agency for musicians, offering record label services, marketing, branding, production and management.  Let Charlie know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Wormholedeath Records: WHD is a modern record label, publishing and film production company fit with global distribution, publishing and marketing using a roster of global partnerships. Let Carlo know The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Show Notes // Transcript

Jon Harris: All right, Chris #2. Go ahead and say Hi to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Chris #2: Yeah. Hello. Nice to meet everyone. Or, or speak with anyone, any opportunity we have to discuss these things that we care so greatly about. And the fact that 2023 is 30 years of the band Anti-Flag, and we still have anyone who gives a fuck enough to chat with us. It means the world, though. Thanks. 

Jon Harris: Absolutely. And thank you again for coming on. Now, The Lies They Tell Our Children or Lies They Tell Our Children, I'm sorry. 13th studio album. What was the greatest moment for you producing this 

Chris #2: Yeah. Truthfully. So I think that creating the constraints that we did conceptually around the album and achieving that goal has been the most rewarding part of it. We set out from the beginning. Look, there was a dark cloud of a global pandemic over all of our heads for quite some time, and we decided as a band to not make music during those periods where we were all collectively stuck at home. And, you know, Pat's wife is a doctor and was around a lot of COVID patients and around COVID every day. Justin's father is 88 years old, and because we're professional ne'er-do-wells, he was afforded the ability to just stay at home and take care of his dad for that period of time and, you know, protect him from a disease or a virus that he was very vulnerable to. And so when we would do things like this, like a phone call every month or a zoom hang out with each other every month, we discussed or flirted with the idea of trying to write a song this way or whatever, and it was not appealing to us. It wasn't a period of history that we believed needed to be documented in that way. So we went on the road as soon as we were allowed to, and we did two months of touring, really got re-inspired, re-energized came home in December of 2021 and wrote and recorded until June of 2022. And so for a band like Anti-Flag to have six months, seven months to make an album, we haven't had that much time since we were kids. And partly because you kind of get on like an endless escalator of, the tour demands new music, so you're just pumping it out to stay on the road, to keep food on the table or whatever. And we learned how to be better stewards of that process, but it was really great to zoom out. So getting back to your question, there are a handful of songs that I think really define the concept of the album, defined this idea that we are trying to trace the issues that we all face collectively to their source and have this, perhaps it's naïve, but a belief that if we are closer to understanding how we got to where we are, we may be closer to a solution to solve those problems. And then we decided to have eight guests on the record. We decided to drop seven singles. We made eight music videos for an album of eleven songs. All, all of those ideas were kicked around in December 2021 and they came to fruition, and we didn't fail on any of them. So.  That is our success story here, is that we set an intention and we delivered on it. It is maybe one of the first lessons we learned as a band. Once we create it, it's no longer ours. And we can't dictate to people how they should feel or whether or not they will like it, or enjoy it, or interact with it in any type of redeeming way. So we tune that out. Now that it's out, it's like, it's no longer us saying what people should take from it. However, it was really great to know that we could be creative out of our comfort zone, disrupt an organization of Anti-Flag that has been so again, 30 fucking years of doing it, and we're still like, here's a new way for Anti-Flag to present these ideas. It's not just like, okay, well, we make this record with this producer who's made the other ten Anti-Flag records, and they come out this way. There's the two singles before we broke our mold, and that is rewarding to us. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, stuck at home during the pandemic, six to seven months to write a song, which yeah, you said you haven't had a chance to work like that since you were kids. I mean, touring musicians just do not have that kind of time. But as you had mentioned also as well, which is super cool. I mean, I love it. Creating constraints, setting goals, meeting those goals, having a success story to tell. And now maybe this next question gets into some of the challenges in creating this record. But I read in the EPK that you have not worked this hard since 2006. It's for the album for Blood and Empire. So take us back to 2006. What's changed?

Chris #2: Yeah, well, what changed was just obviously the pandemic, you know, reprioritized a lot of things for a lot of people, but it also was about embracing the hurdles that were in front of us, there is a - and whether or not it's supply chain issue or whether or not it is just people don't want to do the job.  It takes, like, ten months to make a record now, like, physically produce an LP because the pressing plants are so backed up. So when we saw that, okay, Anti-Flag is going to finish our album in June. If we turn it in now, you're not going to get it till January. We can just sit on these songs and hold them and go back to the traditional model. We said, no, we're on tour. We want to play these songs. So we released the first single three weeks after having a master in hand, which is not a thing, especially for a band like ours. Perhaps, it wasn't, there's probably a marketing plan that we could have sat with that would have been better, you know, but we didn't care. We you know, we this it's our 13th full length and we've done all of it that way. We, we purposefully wanted to try a different way. And what was awesome, and again, going back to a lot of your listeners being people that play music or in bands, a lot of times you record a song and then the first time you play it might be a year after you've recorded it. And so you're relearning - you're listening to yourself to relearn what you did, and that wasn't the case here. So, like, we played 'The Fight of Our Lives' and we played 'Laugh, Cry, Smile, Die' on our European tour, Summer 2022. And those two singles came out on that tour, and we had just finished recording them in May, so they were fresh in our brains. We were great at playing them. They fit right into the set. Like, that is wild to us, because usually, like I said, it's like the album's finished and about a year later, it starts to come out. There are only maybe three singles, and you're trying to work those three into the set.  This way, it felt more akin to your first record as a band that you've written and you're just playing shows on. Those are the only songs you have, so you're sharing them, and then you're like, okay, well, this one works, this one doesn't. And that perspective has been really awesome to have, especially coming out of the work that it took to make the record. 

Jon Harris: Abso-freaking-lutely, everybody who resonates with everything that Chris #2 just said, go ahead and raise your hand. How has the pandemic reprioritized things for you and anybody that you know? And then other cool things, just embracing the hurdles that have come up as a result of the pandemic, reinventing the marketing plan for your own needs. I mean, summer of 2022, Chris, you have singles coming out at the same time that you're playing them, fitting them right into the set, having that same feeling that you had when you were younger, and the only music you had to play was the stuff that you were working on --

Chris #2: Yeah.

Jon Harris: -- and usually having maybe only three singles and then trying to fit them into the set. Because the first time you're playing this song is a year after having recorded it, and then sitting there trying to remember, how in the world did I play this song?

Chris #2: Yeah. What's that guitar part, that like, you came up on a whim in the studio. You know what I mean? Like the chords or the structure, we beat that into our brains, but it's in the studio. There are a lot of magic moments, and that magic moment isn't learned. It's kind of instinctual. 

Jon Harris: Magic moments in the studio, baby. All right, Chris #2, just to remind you one more time, you've been a band for 30 freaking years. 

Chris #2: Yeah, haha.

Jon Harris: How would you define success at this stage of your career? 

Chris #2: Our success has always been measured in a different way than most. And we don't mean this in a negative or derogatory way towards anybody. Obviously, we make a list of goals. And on that list of goals is always sell a million albums, but it's also paint the White House black. And it's sometimes it's as simple as we are putting out a new album. We want to play in a city we've never played before. That that that list. We we tend to make a list of goals every year as a band or every album as a band. It it was a lesson not to name drop, but it was a lesson learned from Tom Morello when he kind of became our mentor in 1999 when we toured with Rage Against the Machine. But that lesson he gave us was simply you'll feel as if things are stagnant if you don't have something to show you a perspective that you are moving forward. And so he said, you know obviously, if everybody's goal is to only sell a million records, every album is a failure. But if you say, I wish it sells a million records, but I also want to create some tangible, real successes, then individually we feel like we're moving forward. The great success of Anti-Flag consistently comes at the live show when we meet somebody who says, especially in the United States, I was going to join the military until I found punk rock and I found your band, and now I have decided to devote my life to something else. You know, we don't, we've got a few plaques from some successes that the band has had numerically through the year. Those aren't on the wall. The thing that's on the wall in Pat's office is the Conscientious Objector letter we got from the kid who got themselves removed from the military going into the Iraq war in 2003. That's Anti-Flag success story. We meet people all over who have run for local office, who work for Amnesty International, who work for Greenpeace, who work and I'm not saying that it's Anti-Flag who did that, but it's the punk community as a whole and the empathy that is the backbone ethos of that. That's what drives people to care about more than just themselves. That's where our success is measured. Especially because, look, we live in Pittsburgh. We've been able to, we own homes here because of the band. We were on a major record label. We've played all the festivals. We've done all those things. And you have to chart your success in different ways when you are privileged with the ability to say that you have achieved further than you ever thought you would. I never thought I'd leave Pittsburgh. And so the fact that we, when we played New York City, I was like, It's over. We're fucking KISS. We did it like, what else is there to do? 

Jon Harris: Well, you're still in Pittsburgh. You're sitting there right now, right? 

Chris #2: Yes. I've been on an airplane. My mom is an Italian immigrant. She came to America when she was 13, and we would go to Italy when I was a little kid. I remember going when I was ten, I believe that was the only airplane I'd ever been on was holding her hand. And then this shitty punk band took with me all around the world, and so that's far greater of an opportunity, especially from Justin and I in particular in the band. We grew up very poor. I'm the youngest of three kids. He's the youngest of nine. His father is an immigrant from Ireland. My mother an immigrant from Italy. We have a lot of similarities that kind of brought us together, and that also, I think, shaped the politics of the band. Growing up in Pittsburgh, a city that was impoverished, a city that was forgotten by the industry that built it up, and we grew up in those decades where there was nothing. Now it's quite affluent. There's Google offices here and Apple offices here, and the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon are tremendously important spaces of higher education in the United States. So that's brought a lot of new energy and money to the city. But when we grew up, I remember my uncle losing his job at the steel mill because they shut it down in Monaca, Pennsylvania. That kind of stuff will shape you, and that blue collar ethic will make you look at the world through a different pair of lenses. And I think that that's why a lot of the music, almost all of the music, aside from maybe Christina Aguilera that's come out of Pittsburgh, has a political tinge to it. Even Rusted Root, who are a hippie band. 'Send Me On My Way' was their big song. They were doing benefit shows for parts of the world that we had never heard of. Aus-Rotten, The Bad Genes, Anti-Flag. The punk scene was political in Pittsburgh. And so that's why we are the way we are. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, not bad for a shitty punk band that took you all over the world, correct? 

Chris #2: Yes. Yeah.

Jon Harris: But you definitely mentioned some great things for everybody listening in, grabbing a mentor I mean, obviously, Tom Morello in 1999 would be somebody to listen to, that's for sure. So grabbing a mentor in the industry who steeped in, who can give you some perspective and yeah, so that things don't feel stagnant, because how many people listening in are saying, yeah, I'd love to be able to own a home off of my six strings or my four strings or my snare drum, play festivals. that'd be cool. But once you get there, what's next? And I think that was a great piece of advice. And my next question, Chris, is what's the number one thing you want people listening to do? 

Chris #2: I think the hardest thing to spread in this world is empathy. Often people don't think about others until they're faced with the situation of difficulty. You see it in American politics all the time. The Republican senator doesn't give a damn about gay rights until they find out they have a gay son. Often it is, you know, and I saw it with my own mother. My sister who passed passed away, was killed in 2007. She had an interracial relationship. Her daughter is half black. My mom wasn't openly racist, but I think had a lot of taught and inherited racism coming from where she came from. And then all of a sudden she had to be the grandmother of a person who was black. And then faced with that, had to have a reckoning with her own morality. And now I've seen her stand up to racism in ways that blow me away, and I wish I had as much passion and fight in myself as she does. And so, I think that right now we have a crisis of empathy. And so the greatest bit of advice the you want to be a revolutionary in 2023? Be kind. I mean, it's a radical, a radical space to be in. The status quo of our cultures is the economy of the United States is predicated on war and sending weaponry around the world. Our planet is dying because corporations are choosing profit over people and the planet itself, everything on our television screen is telling us that we're not good enough and that maybe if we buy this pair of pants, someone's going to fuck us. Or if we you know --

Jon Harris: That's all I had to do, Chris? 

Chris #2: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You got pimples on your face. You're not good enough, whatever it might be. And so consistently, we are being beaten down into a place that doesn't allow us to have empathy. And partly it's because a lot of people are working so hard that they don't have time. The economic constraints of our society are such that if you miss a day's work, some people are behind the eight ball there. And so how are you going to have time and space in your day to care about someone else when you're struggling so much? So I think that those of us that are in these places of privilege where we are afforded those opportunities, we need to inject that empathy wherever we can. So again, it's an act of resistance to share commonality and find commonality with people right now. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Spread empathy, baby. There's an empathy crisis here in 2023, and I completely agree, especially after what we saw in the pandemic. 

Chris #2: Yeah.

Jon Harris: Did it ever get better? Who knows? But I guess we'll stay tuned to find out. But this record is absolutely incredible. Chris, for everybody listening in right now, head over to, and I'll have the eight music videos all right there for you, as well as the show notes for day, as well as three heavy hitters from I mean, so many amazing things were said today. We'll narrow it down to three. I guess we'll call them heavy hitters. Three heavy hitters and otherwise. Chris, thank you so much for coming on today. 

Chris #2: Yeah, it was an absolute honour. And you're very good at what you do. Congratulations. Go get them. 

Jon Harris: Well, thank you. 

Chris #2: Yeah. Thank you. You look like you spent time and energy on it, and that's good. Anybody who's got a laptop has a podcast right now, so it's nice to do ones that are done well and you know, have an intention, and I think that we need more of that in this world. So, kudos, my friend. 


Friday, February 17, 2023

Using Music as a Creative Tool to Deal with Trauma with Charlie Dawe of VENTENNER

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Charlie Dawe of the band Ventenner about their new album ‘Signal Collapse’ out now via Syndicol Music.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as using music as a creative tool to deal with trauma.

'Signal Collapse' was produced and recorded by Charlie Dawe and Max Dobson Browne, mixed by Max Dobson Browne, and mastered by Greg Chandler.

For fans of Nine Inch Nails, Deftones, Failure, Tool, Filter, Alice In Chains, Massive Attack.


Guest Resource - Connect with Ventenner!

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Commit to try something new when producing a record; a new tuning, a new instrument, a new approach.

2. Using music as a creative tool to deal with trauma by becoming vulnerable in order to express yourself - no hiding behind screaming, too much distortion, or lyrical prose.

3. Defining success with a bucket list of goals, experiences, creative achievements.


Asher Media Relations: Doing PR for everything loud! For your band needs to be seen and heard in print, online and radio!  Let Asher know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Tue Madsen: Tue Madsen is responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the best metal for over the last 20 years.  Let Tue know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Syndicol Music: A full service agency for musicians, offering record label services, marketing, branding, production and management.  Let Charlie know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Wormholedeath Records: WHD is a modern record label, publishing and film production company fit with global distribution, publishing and marketing using a roster of global partnerships. Let Carlo know The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Show Notes // Transcript

Jon Harris: Charlie, welcome on, go ahead and say hello to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Charlie Dawe: Hello, beautiful listeners. 

Jon Harris: Okay, Charlie, I want to get into this. So we have here in the EPK, I've Got it in my hand, the latest release, Signal Collapse. First album since 2012, a more efficient stripped back line up. I guess we'll get into this a little bit. I'm guessing that means fewer band members?

Charlie Dawe: Yes. 

Jon Harris: Okay. And then sonically paving the way for a more direct and mature sound. So, first question, what was the greatest moment for you producing this record? And did it help, I guess, to have fewer band members involved? Is that why there's a more direct and mature sound? 

Charlie Dawe: Yeah, I think it's nice being in a room with musicians and playing around with ideas, and I certainly appreciated that over the first couple of records because from like the Distorture and Invidia and onwards, I learned a lot from other people. I was working with producers and different people that were in the band at different times. But there was always this sense of like, I come up with an idea and then you've got three or four other people in the room and they're like, yeah, but I think that sounds a bit shit. What about doing it like this? And I was like, yeah, okay, I'm not going to be a dick about it. If everyone is saying, let's go that direction, sure, maybe I'm the guy in the room that's wrong. But this time around I was like, no, I'm not going to second guess myself when I've written something and I go, that sounds really cool. There's no one over my shoulder going, I'll do it differently. I was like, no, it's going to be exactly how I want it. And that was just really satisfying. And I think it's the first album I've enjoyed making in a long time because normally they're a slog and there's usually arguments and tensions and they're exhausting and this just kind of it was as easy as making a small jelly. It was just very simple. It was like, TADA, it's done. Yeah, it was nice, it was good, it was enjoyable for once. For fuck's sake. It's supposed to be fun, right? 

Jon Harris: It is supposed to be fun. I mean, for everybody listening in right now who is maybe going through a particular band dynamic in the studio and is not feeling that fun, but you mentioned I'm not second guessing myself. If it sounds cool, it's going on the record. First album you've enjoyed making in a long time, which I'm sure resonates with some people that either they're having that liberating experience right now as they're listening in, or conversely, they're in the middle of that dynamic themselves. But I guess it can't all be roses. I mean, was there a challenge that came up on this record? What was challenging for you on this record? 

Charlie Dawe: There was a couple of things that were challenging. First of all, vocally, I definitely went in a different direction. I think I screamed maybe once, maybe twice in the whole album. Like, it's a very, very clean vocal approach, which was kind of vulnerable and a bit difficult. But I felt it was the right thing to do on this album. And I mean, not only like I said, I'm just not that pissed off anymore, but I just felt with the mature sound like you can't just keep screaming and being angry at your parents forever. There comes a point where you're just like, I'm just going to sing this song and I want it to be a good song. So that was tricky because I had to kind of really sort of show my vocal chops and I couldn't hide behind too much stuff. And I mean, I suppose ultimately it kind of came down all on me as well. I thought the record was good and luckily everyone else has said it's good and probably the best one so far, but I was still a bit nervous. I always wait up till like 1 minute past midnight on the Friday of the release and watch it go live on Spotify and Apple Music and play it. And then I was like, if this is shit, there's no one else to blame. Like, that's definitely it's all on me. So I was like, there's going to be some hard truth here, because if this is a failure, then I'll be like, oh, okay. So I was quite shit all along. I did need other people, but luckily, I don't know, it seemed to work out the way I wanted it to and I suppose it's really easy. You hear a lot of bands who say stuff like, oh yeah, just stay true to your vision and all the rest will come along. And I'm like, well, that's okay for you because you're the fucking Foo Fighters like, yeah, it doesn't matter. People on the way up still need to play the game a little and need to kind of be accessible in a certain way. But yeah, I kind of circling back to what you were saying about musicians that maybe need to hear that, about enjoying it. It should be an enjoyable process. You shouldn't worry about the numbers so much and whether you're in the right magazine. And this is the first album I've done probably ever. I was just like, I really like that. That's just exactly how I wanted it to sound. It came out, it was eight tracks. No one was telling me they needed to be eleven. It was just done and it was great. And also weirdly, the color of your backdrop matches the album cover, which I'm very grateful for. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, well, I didn't want to have any signals collapse here. 

Charlie Dawe: Oooh, You!  You and your Canadian puns!

Jon Harris: I know, I know.  But yeah, for everybody listening in, vulnerability, I think, has always been tied to what I'll call massive music success in whatever way that that can be. And for anybody listening in, you know, addressing people who might be working on a project right now, thinking, I'm going to hide behind lyrical prose rather than just coming out and saying it, or I'm going to hide behind screaming rather than actually just showing the world that I have a beautiful voice or I'm going to hide behind as a guitar player. Too much distortion. As opposed to some of the heaviest brutal sounds I've ever heard as a guitar player who can really freaking play. And he's just about got a clean sound. But it's because the band has worked out their song and their sound so well that we're hearing authentic, vulnerable musicianship and I think that there's a lot of value to that. 

Charlie Dawe: Yeah, no, 100%. And it also causes you to take a few risks and go down a few paths that you might not be overly comfortable with. And that makes for some really interesting stuff. A lot of the stuff that came out on this record was experimenting and a work in Progress. And because I hadn't used a seven string guitar before, or I hadn't used like a particular type of piano before, and I was like, well, I kind of have to use that, so how do I use it? I have to make it sound good. Rather than trying to go back the way I came and fix it and go down the tried and tested route, I was like, I need to make it work. Yeah, it forced the hand creatively quite a lot and I'm going to make sure I carry that forward to future projects. 

Jon Harris: Experimenting, work in progress, the desire to make the new ideas work. And speaking of the ideas on this record, in the EPK here, it says that there is the theme of death and rebirth, rebirth obviously being the new thing. And we're going to get back to that instrumentation later on because I really want to talk about like, the 7th string and the piano and whatever else, but getting back to the core of experimenting, new ideas, death and rebirth. Take us through the themes on this record. 

Charlie Dawe: Yeah, I felt like Ventenner as a thing did die somewhat, in a sense, and this was a new beginning for the band. People that had been there for a very long time were gone. And musically styles, themes, there was a change. It felt like something had come to an end and this was a new beginning. But also a lot of the themes on this album were dealing with trauma, past trauma. And that echo that goes runs from, you know, decades, maybe previously kind of ripples through this lifeline of yours all the way through to present day. And I think confronting that as well, dealing with trauma, I think it's something that a lot of people don't do until they get a bit older and they kind of wish they'd done it sooner, but they didn't really have the tools or the objectivity to be able to do it. And again, that is the death and rebirth. You're saying goodbye to someone you were there is a definitive before and after and it's not pleasant and it's difficult and it can be very painful. But knowing when you come out on the other side of it, you're like, yeah, no, this is a new thing, something has changed, something has shifted, this is a new thing. And, yeah, that was definitely a very prominent theme in the lyrics and the title and even the style of playing, like the instruments chosen, the way, the tones, the tuning, everything, it was all very much to do with something old and now something new. 

Jon Harris: Is that the signal collapse? 

Charlie Dawe: Yeah, it was this idea of messages running like a signal kind of coming from somewhere else and letting that collapse, letting that kind of process stop and die. And you can move away from it. 

Jon Harris: Dealing with trauma, but without the tools or the objectivity. And to say goodbye to the person that you were or still holding on to or should let go of and aren't letting go of. I mean, how many people listening in right now can resonate with that statement and might be using music as an escape? And I think something that we could probably dive into just a little bit deeper, Charlie is, it almost sounds like you were using music to cover up rather than to escape, and all of a sudden have discovered the objectivity and the tool of music to now finally use that as not necessarily an escape, but as a release. 

Charlie Dawe: Very much so. I think the band, even as a whole concept, was used as a release, but I guess masking the problem and just kind of going, I'm angry, I'm on tour, I'm going to drink loads and I'm going to do this and I'm going to make angry music. And I don't know why I'm angry, but I am. Now, this felt more like, I guess, kind of peaceful resolve at the end of whatever the last decade has been. And it can take a little while because obviously a lot of people use their creativity to vent their feelings and anxieties and fears and whatnot, but takes a while to kind of really get to grips with what they were and what they are and finding out what kind of person you are. It's very easy to just keep saying, I hate this, I hate that, fuck the system. But kind of finding out why you feel that way and then putting that into art, that's a lot more vulnerable, but a lot more rewarding and a lot more cathartic, I think, in the long run. 

Jon Harris: Absolutely. How many people right now listening in resonate with what Charlie said? Go ahead and raise your hand, baby. I mean, going on tour, drinking loads, being angry, not even knowing why I'm angry. Easy to say F the system, but figuring out why we feel that way, putting those feelings into our creativity and producing something that, yeah, it's vulnerable, but it's cathartic. And I think that's why we're here as artists, as musicians, as creative people, to express ourselves and then going with what Charlie said as well, if we're dealing with with trauma, we're going to have to express, because as someone very wise, wiser than myself once said, if we don't express, we depress. 

Charlie Dawe: Yeah.

Jon Harris: And that's where things start to get really ugly. So find out what kind of person you are and put that into the art.  How would you define success at this stage of your career? 

Charlie Dawe: I mean, it's a good question and it's something you definitely need the time and the hours and years put in to be able to reflect back on it. I think when I first started out, I just wanted to get what I wanted to say out in a creative way and I wanted it to resonate with people and I guess in a very narcissistic way, I wanted people to think I was fucking cool for doing it. I wanted people to go, hey, he's really good at that. That's awesome. I like his band. And yeah, sure, I still like that. But I think my definition of success is very different now, like what I used to think of as arena sized bands and stuff and what their level of success was. And it's very different now when I've been on tour with smaller bands and going to see smaller bands and I'm like, you put out a great album, people really love it. That's going to be there 50 years from now when you're dead. That's a way higher level of success for me than any amount of arenas and stadiums could ever provide. And this is the first time, this album is the first time I've got to in my life where I thought, and this is going to sound really morbid and dramatic, but it isn't. But if I were to get squashed by a big red bus tomorrow, I'd be like, I'm good with what I've done. I feel comfortable with what I've made and put out in the world and that is a good legacy for me. And I haven't really got to that point yet. I kind of almost touched on it through various different records, but I've never like, I haven't got there yet, I haven't done it. And this feels like I'm at a completion point now where I could be like, if I have to stop, I would be okay with that. Not that I'm going to, but that early, that first album, I was like, this is like, here's a bunch of songs, but fuck, I've got so many more I want to make. And I want to make that album that sounds like a Smashing Pumpkins album. And I want to make the album that sounds like a U2 album. And I want to do my German techno album, and I want to do all this stuff. And it's just nice to get to that point where you start to actually tick some of those boxes. Like, to me, that is the greatest level of success you could ever have. 

Jon Harris: Being okay with what you've done. If the big red bus comes and hits you, then you're okay with it. Having things that you've got on your list that you can check off. So having a list, that's important, the bucket list, as a lot of people like to call it, so that you can see like, yeah, I did do that. I have the memories of that. I've got shared experiences with other people with that, which is super cool and getting to a point where, yeah, success isn't about selling out an arena, nothing against that, by any stretch of the imagination, but defining success outside of that. And it was something that you had mentioned earlier on in the conversation that I wanted to turn our attention back to, which was playing around with new instruments, seven string, piano, and committing to trying something new. Speaking of new memories that you can create, take us through that. 

Charlie Dawe: I deliberately, I mean pretty much every Ventenner song up until this has been written in the key of C sharp, like pretty much every single one. That's my go to key. I knew that I was going to be singing this rather than screaming it, so I was like, well, that's going to have an effect on it. And I wanted to convey a crushing heaviness like a weight, like the sucking vacuum of a black hole. But at the same time I wanted to have this like, counterpoint to that. So a lot of higher parts and I wanted to not have really anything in the middle. So that took a lot of playing and finessing of trying to figure out how to make these bottom end sounds so huge and then this higher up stuff not sound tiny and terrible. And that was like a certain amount of it was like worked out, just trial and error and figure out what sounds go on top and what things work. Little things, like in most of the guitar solo there's actually a piano part and they're making the same notes in the background. You can't really hear it until you take it out and then you go, okay, yeah, that was there. I can hear that now. Also, the idea of thematically, this idea of an echo coming from your past, I used a lot of delay and echo on the guitar parts, the piano parts, even the bass lines. I used the word echo and delay a lot through the album. So even if you're not picking up on it, it is there, it's going in. There is this idea of this constant bouncing signal going somewhere and I had to get to grips with a lot of new tools. Like, I had to use I had to figure out how to use an octave pedal to get that deep crushing tone on my guitar. Playing around with different synths as well, like going away from the usual stuff, nothing industrial. I was kind of using synths that you'd use for film soundtrack composition and things like that. So lots of ethereal, kind of nice floaty sounds and I think I'll probably, again, move away from that on the next stuff. I like to make sure that everything I do and release, it's a little snapshot of time so it sounds like it sounded at that point and it wouldn't sound right in two years time. It worked at that point. Advice to musicians would be if there is a theme of if there's something you're trying to get across a message, then think about, okay, well, what does that mean? Like, am I angry? Am I frantically furious about something? So maybe speed is something you should be playing with. Maybe going very fast, very slow, but kind of tapping into that creativity and using pitcher boards. Really immersing yourself in the sound and the message you're trying to get across and it will all seep in and eventually you will be able to get that thing in your head to come out to speakers. It just takes a little time to do. 

Jon Harris: Wow, there are so many things to unpackage there for everyone listening in right now. Number one, do you resonate with trying something new? A crushing low end, having that high end come out beautifully, but not brittle, making space for things in between, such as the snare and those vocals, especially because you wanted to sing on this record more than scream the middle is so freaking important. And just to hammer home the heavy hitter that, Charlie, you had given to our beautiful listeners is defining the theme of the record and then using your musical tools to creatively enhance that theme. So, for example, you had echoes going throughout and sounds of signals and really emphasizing the theme of signal collapse and emphasizing the theme of going back into the past and reliving things and maybe having that bit of death and rebirth, which is super dee duper freaking cool, am I wrong? Am I wrong? But anyway, Charlie, what is the number one thing that you want everybody listening in right now to do? 

Charlie Dawe: Go to the woods and you should enjoy nature. But no, for me, yeah, go to You can do all the stuff there. You can drop me an email and you can buy my records and wear a nice T shirt if you wish and come see us on tour. We're on tour in May in the UK. So that'll be fun. It's going to be a bit of a it's a little scary when you go out on your own when you have a headline band. It's not like when you go out and support and you're like, you play to a few thousand people and you're like, well, no one comes. It's not my fault. Whereas you have a headline band. You're like, shit, I really got to make people show up. But it's the first time. Soon as we announced the tour, people were like, messaging and commenting, going, I've got my tickets already. I can't wait. And I'm like, oh, that's pretty cool. You never really get used to that. That's a nice feeling. But yeah. Go to my website, subscribe to my newsletter, and I will tell you the mysteries of the world. 

Jon Harris: All right, so go and head over to They're going to be on tour in May in the UK, that rhymes on purpose. Go ahead and sign up for the newsletter on their website. All the secrets of the world will be revealed to you. And then also as well, you can head over to, where the show notes will be available for today with some extra goodies that I'll make sure Charlie sends over my way so that you have everything that you need for today's episode. Charlie, thank you so much for coming on today. 

Charlie Dawe: Good, thank you very much for having me. It's always a pleasure.


Friday, February 10, 2023

We Had Major Label Interest within Two Years with Brandon Mullins of EMBRACED

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Brandon Mullins of the band Embraced about their headlining of the PC Throwback Fest on 24 June 2023.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as how Embraced received major label interest within two years.

For fans of Underoath, Norma Jean, RX Bandits, New Found Glory.


Guest Resource

PC Throwback Fest - Connect with Embraced Live!

Embraced Facebook - Stay in touch with Embraced!

Embraced Spotify - Listen to Embraced!

Guest Music Video

Embraced - An Orchestrated Failure | 15th Year Anniversary Vinyl Release from Wild Light Films on Vimeo.

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Play parking lots, house shows, birthday parties - get into people's ears!

2. Think of yourself as a musician who has a gift to give to the world

3. Make music on your terms, celebrate getting paid to be a musician


Asher Media Relations: Doing PR for everything loud! For your band needs to be seen and heard in print, online and radio!  Let Asher know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Tue Madsen: Tue Madsen is responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the best metal for over the last 20 years.  Let Tue know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Syndicol Music: A full service agency for musicians, offering record label services, marketing, branding, production and management.  Let Charlie know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Wormholedeath Records: WHD is a modern record label, publishing and film production company fit with global distribution, publishing and marketing using a roster of global partnerships. Let Carlo know The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Show Notes // Transcript

Jon Harris: All right. Well, Brandon, welcome to the rock metal podcast. Go ahead and say hi to all of our beautiful listeners. 

Brandon Mullins: Hey, everybody. How are you doing? I'm Brandon. 

Jon Harris: Brandon, great to have you on. Now, go ahead and quickly tell everyone listening in what you told me when you reached out to me by email.

Brandon Mullins: The fact that we were really nobodies in Panama City, Florida, for the longest time, and we just decided to give this music thing a go. And from being high school kids to having some major label interest in about two years, it didn't mean much to us at the time, but in retrospect, that doesn't happen much these days. 

Jon Harris: No, it doesn't. But, I mean, how many people are resonating with this? Nobody's from any town, small town, big town, maybe even being high school kids, given this music thing a go. But here's the interesting thing. Having that major label interest in about two years. 

Brandon Mullins: Yeah, so we were actually, we were all playing in bands and, you know, bands with the quotation marks, but also making a noise at some point with little things before then. But this band came to fruition and really started getting its legs right in the year 2000. And we put this record out. We've been writing music and finally formed the EP songs together and recorded it on Theory Eight Records in the year 2002. And that's when things really kind of took off for us. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, you mentioned some things that definitely haven't changed since the year 2000. You got in the studio, you recorded, you got on stage, you found your legs, so to speak. So, I mean, for anybody who's currently asking right now, like, great, the year 2000, what does that have to do with what's going on today? We're going to get to this, so don't worry for a second. But quickly, Brandon, what would you say that's different?

Brandon Mullins: To have those labels reaching out to us after we had been hustling and busting our butts for a little bit, even I say a little bit, two years, it was interesting to see there wasn't as much competition as there is today. In that terms, if you had the gumption and you were willing to kind of get out there and play some music in front of people, people would listen, you know?

Jon Harris: Yeah, you mentioned something incredible there - gumption, which, for those who don't know, that's basically being resourceful, figuring out the way and getting out there to play music, getting on stage, getting your information in front of people physically in real life, not hiding behind your Instagram. That's why, Brandon, I think you said there's no competition back then because you couldn't hide behind your Instagram. You actually had to get on stage. You actually had to do things to be a musician. But on a more serious level, Brandon, take us back to the year 2000. How did you do it? 

Brandon Mullins: If you've got a certain approach or mindset what I'm thinking of as gumption, that opportunities that present as lucky tend to pop up more and more, right? So when I say that we went from nobody's in a band to getting looked at by these major labels in such a short span, I think it's because we are out there busting and taking advantage of these situations. Keep in mind that this was way before you were able to click a button and send anyone in the world your music and being able to find it on Spotify and Apple Music. So I think we had two major goals in respect to sharing our sound and our music around. The first one was we needed to get in people's ears. Spotify didn't exist then, right? So if you wanted people to hear your music, you had to either put it in their hands or they had to be at the show. So we took any vehicle that we could possibly find and we would pack it up and play anywhere that would take us, right? So we were driving all over the Southeast for any promoter that would have us. We played birthday parties, hence the embarrassing situations, tour, little town festivals, parking lots, house shows, whatever we were invited to. And I think that led to more legit opportunities later down the road. So seeking those adventures and seeking those opportunities, but also we wanted to be taken seriously as musicians, not just kids that are playing at somebody's birthday party. So I think the touring helped promoters start to look in our direction. But what really helped legitimize our band was who we played with, right? So I think that one thing that helped put Panama City on the map concerning underground heavy music was that we were booking these shows so that we could play with these bands that we wanted to play with. We kind of became a de facto production company, bringing bands like Underoath and Norma Jean, who was actually Ludicrous before they were Norma Jean. We played their first show as Norma Jean ever, a New Found Glory before they got real big. RX Bandits, 238, Stretch Armstrong, Beloved. And those two things combined, I think, showed labels that we could be taken seriously and hang because we had the wherewithal and the gumption to go out and get it done. And we weren't playing like American Idol or X Factor and hoping that we had this massive audience and could be judged on those merits. We were just 16, 17 and 18 year old dudes driving a 1982 Chevy Suburban to Atlanta to play a show for some band that we thought was cool back in the day. 

Jon Harris: Hahaha, 16 to 18 year old high school kids is driving around in 1982 Chevy Suburban on the way to Atlanta, playing shows, networking with other bands, as you mentioned, going to Atlanta just to play for a band that you wanted to play with. And the crazy thing is that everything that you mentioned still exists today. 

Brandon Mullins: Yeah. But not everybody's doing it, right? So I think you're right. Back in the day, I can remember going to as a kid, like, Warp Tour or something, right. And somebody would come up and give you a CD because the CDs were new then, and it was something they pressed. It wasn't from a label. They had their handwriting on it. I personally went to one in Atlanta one time, and some kid came up and handed me the CD, and it was like, Check out my band, it's really cool. And I say, okay, whatever. And I played it later, or whatever it was. Jim Atkins from Jimmy Eat World gave me a CD. It's like, hustling for his band. It might have been like, '98, but I mean, think about where they are now. But you're right. It was an art form. You had to be able to talk to people, and that's lost a little bit these days, right. To see somebody you don't know put a flyer in their hand and say, hey, come see my band. It's $4, or whatever. Right. It's a free show we're playing. Come out and see it. And I think sometimes it's easy to get behind a screen and send an email and say, well, that's it. That's all I have to do. And that might work for some people, but I don't think that's how you gain loyal fans or entice people to come and see your music. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Putting a physical CD in someone's hands, obviously that's changed. There's other ways, I'm sure, that bands are figuring out how to do that. But you have that experience. What turned out to be Jimmy Eat World, I remember having that experience, and it turned out to be Evanescence when they hit the radio. I remember having that experience, and it turned out to be 10 Years, you know, when they hit the radio. So it's not just sitting behind the email screen, as you put it, or just sitting behind the Instagram screen like I like to put it, but actually getting out there and putting in the work to build a loyal following and entice people to see your music. Which takes me to my next question, Brandon.

Brandon Mullins: Yeah?

Jon Harris: It's not the year 2000 anymore, and we have TikTok. How would you do this again? Luck aside, I guess, because I know luck is a part of it. You mentioned luck. Sure. How would you do it again? 

Brandon Mullins: Yeah, that's the question. Right. Because hindsight is always 2020. I think you hear so many stories about actors or business moguls, they say something like, I was about to give it up, and then this happened. I think in the case of my first band, Embraced what kind of haunts us, if that's the right term, because we're all in good places, but I think we gave up a little too soon. We're talking about a short time frame here. We existed from maybe a little bit before 2000 to a little bit around 2004, when we really kind of found our swing, but we gave it up just a little bit too soon. And I think it had something to do with our immature internal band arguments that we could have easily resolved. But we were young and dumb and short sighted, and if we had found a way to work through those, I mean, who knows? Because some of our contemporaries at the time were in the trenches, but they found a way to hang in there and found real market success like our music genre had never seen before, playing to hundreds of thousands of people. I talked to a guy that we were in a band with at the time and a few years later chatted with him. It was this band called Copeland. I don't know if your listeners are familiar with that band, this indie rock band from Lakeland, but he was in a band that played in front of the Pope, in the Vatican City, in front of a million people, all because they stuck it out and didn't give up when things got rough. So I think that's the first thing I would do differently, right, is stick it out a little more and try to be more mature about the intentionality of our music. But I'd also say, looking back, one big approach to how I view myself would change. I think when you're young, you often think about yourself as a member of a band. Like I was Brandon from Embraced, and it's easy to kind of get stuck in that kind of egocentric area again. Being short sighted and young, I would definitely think of myself more. I would take a step back and think of myself as a musician who has something to give to the world, right? What I mean by that is, I feel like if you're a person in a band, you tend to think of yourself in that ecosystem. But if you are a musician, you get to spread your wings and be creative. And there were so many times where I had opportunities to play in other bands or do my solo thing, and it didn't because I was Brandon from Embraced. I would definitely be more intentional about thinking of myself as a musician because for a long time, it was like kind of sacrilege to branch out from your main band or your social, your musical endeavour. I would approach it that way. I would think of myself as a musician first if I had to do it all over again and being more intentional about my musical journey and the person that I am creating music as opposed to just being a dude in a band. 

Jon Harris: Yeah, we hear that everybody, don't give up too soon. Think about that market success. But at the same time, I think where that market success comes from is something that Brandon touched on. He's not just Brandon from Embraced. He is a musician who has something to give, and I always parallel music to food. I don't know why my parallel to that was, am I a chef because I want to be, I don't know, the next big name, or am I looking to use my talent to ensure that somebody has an experience with food that they wouldn't have otherwise had? 

Brandon Mullins: Yeah, I get that. Again, as a musician, it was I'm in a band. This is the music that we make. But if you think about it, from this is the thing that I'm creating. I get to share with the world. You can go in so many different directions. It's not so single minded. And you're right. Like, what do you bring to the table? What stirs your soul? As opposed to what can this thing, this entity do? What can I do? 

Jon Harris: Okay. You mentioned market success earlier on in the interview, Brandon and hustling for two years, getting in major label interest. You did mention a bit of luck, but you've also mentioned being able to play with, Underoath, Norma Jean, Rx Bandits, New Found Glory, I guess, at this stage, how would you define success as a band? 

Brandon Mullins: Yeah, in my opinion, success can really only be defined by the individual that's looking for success. Right. What is success? Becoming the next Aerosmith or creating music you can be proud of or getting paid to play music? By that measure, street performers are successful. But I have a little bit of a story here, if that's okay. One of my first jobs ever, just right before embraced with forming. It might have even been, like, the first couple of months of embraced. I was 17, and I was working at this photography company called Sepia. Essentially, they were contracted by shopping malls, if you remember what a shopping mall is. And they did, like, Easter Bunny photography and Santa Claus photography, and they did a picture experience for kids. Anyway, I was working as, like, a Santa's Helper thing, and one of the Santas that we contracted was this guy named Jay Carrington Scott. You can look him up if you want to, or your listeners should look him up. Anyway, he found out that I was doing the band thing and performing my own music, and we got to chat. And apparently in his younger years, he was a hired saxophone player for Leonard Skinner and, like, Alabama and some of these other bands, and he just loved the fact that I was, like, getting started, and he told me his tour stories. Anyway, he's really nice guy. He passed away in 2009. But when I was talking to him one day, I had mentioned to him that we made $400, one time, which was a huge sum of money for a 17 year old playing in some rinky dink band back in the day to play some kids birthday party. And I felt really cheesed out that we were playing a birthday party and he said, because it was a birthday party and it wasn't like a real show or anything, and he said, I'll never forget it. He said, you got paid to play music, right? That makes you a successful musician. And that always kind of stuck with me. But although I don't use that as my definition, but it always comes to mind, I think, for me personally, Brandon Mullins defining what success is as a musician, I think it's being able to create music or create a sound that has meaning to you and that you are able to do on your own terms. Labels will often tell you what to do or what to dress like or what to sound like. But I think a band like Jimmy Eat World or MxPx or even like a Taylor Swift who get to make their own music and own it and do what they want to regarding their own sound, that's what real music success looks like. 

Jon Harris: Making music on your own terms, getting paid to be a musician. I mean, there's a couple of things that we've said there, right? You can get paid to be a musician. You can rock those birthday parties, those bar mitzvahs like Drake, I just got back from a bar mitzvah in the States. So it's definitely something that happens in the music industry. So get ready for that. Definitely nothing to be ashamed of. But then, as you mentioned, Taylor Swift's of the world, the Jimmy Eat World's of the world, making music on your own terms. What did you want people to do from this call? We have so many value bombs that have been dropped, or some heavy hitters, as I like to call them, for bands listening in that I think need to just hear a refreshing ear. There's just so much noise going on right now and so much wrong information about how to promote your band. I just wanted to get back to the brass tacks that everything that we're talking about still exists today and bands are ignoring. And it's almost like you'd be on a fast track because you'd be doing what nobody else is doing, to cut through the noise. But what do you want listeners to do right now? Is there a place you want them to go on the web? What do you want them to do? 

Brandon Mullins: Sure. Well, let me start by saying thanks for giving me this opportunity. It's been a lot of fun. But I'm hoping that some of your listeners that are sitting there enjoying listening to some old heads talk about music the way that it used to be, have found some measure of kind of inspiration from our conversation or took an anecdote or a suggestion, and they think, I can run with that, or if I change that thing, I can run with it. So I hope that that exists, right? But I guess my call to action would be for your listeners to go get it. Go make music you love, go borrow a car, go get with your best friends, hit the road. I'm in such a great spot right now. I feel like I have a wonderful family. I've got two great kids. You know, my wife is wonderful and I wouldn't trade that for anything. But I'm also thinking of what 21 year old me that found some European or Japanese promoter who was willing to fly us to play songs to some kids that don't even speak English that we wrote in our garage halfway across the world. And those kids are singing along and I get to do this travel the world thing with four of my best friends. I kept those networks going and I didn't burn those bridges and it allows me now, as a 40 year old man, the opportunity to have my own children come and see me perform in front of 4,000 people at their first concert. So I guess I hope somebody finds the courage to take the next step to start your musical journey. Embraced has been playing on and off for 20 years now and we've all gone on to form a few different bands and we took those steps for me with a band called Across Five Aprils, if you're into that. We found some success on Victory Records and got to tour the world and Steve went on to go play and Go Radio and they're still touring. You should go see them if you like the pop punk side of things. They're playing with fans like Plain White, T's and Paramore and they did a whole run of Warp Tours for several years. And Embraced. This 40 year old dude is going to get to play with some of my best friends back in the day. We're going to be playing a reunion show again on June 24 in Panama City at Panhandle Throwback Fest. They've been kind enough to let us headline that and I get to hang out with all my friends. I guess I would say to your audience is listening, go get it. And if you happen to be out there at our show on the 24th or you see me in the future, come up and say hey, because I'd love to chat about what your musical journey looks like. 

Jon Harris: Go ahead and hit up Brandon at the Panhandle Fest. That's June 24 is going to be happening in Panama City, Florida. And my goodness gracious, so many incredible valuable were dropped today. So please make sure to head over to where I will have all of the extra information from today, the transcripts, everything that you need to know to make sure that you have everything that you need from today's episode. So, Brandon, thank you so much for coming on to the Rock Metal podcast today. 

Brandon Mullins: Yeah, man, I really appreciate being here. This is a lot of fun. Thank you for letting me bend your ear for a little bit.


Friday, February 3, 2023

When 3 Band Members Left Us with Ravi Sherwell of AS PARADISE FALLS

In this episode of The Rock Metal Podcast, we're chatting with Ravi Sherwell of the band As Paradise Falls about their new EP ‘Madness / Medicine’ out now via Eclipse Records.

During our chat we touch on a lot of great tips for musicians, such as what to do when three band members leave to pursue other opportunities.

'Madness / Medicine' EP was produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Shane Edwards & Danny Kenneally at Studio 28.

For fans of Northlane, Trophy Eyes, Hellions


Guest Resource

As Paradise Falls website - Connect with As Paradise Falls!

Guest Music Video

3 Heavy Hitters

1. Finding inspiration for your music from cinema such as Hans Zimmer

2. Finding a producer as weird as you with a great sense of humour

3. Figure out who is the most creative in the band, and hire the rest when needed


Asher Media Relations: Doing PR for everything loud! For your band needs to be seen and heard in print, online and radio!  Let Asher know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Tue Madsen: Tue Madsen is responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the best metal for over the last 20 years.  Let Tue know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Syndicol Music: A full service agency for musicians, offering record label services, marketing, branding, production and management.  Let Charlie know Jon from The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Wormholedeath Records: WHD is a modern record label, publishing and film production company fit with global distribution, publishing and marketing using a roster of global partnerships. Let Carlo know The Rock Metal Podcast sent you.

Show Notes // Transcript

Jon Harris: Ravi, go ahead and say hello to our beautiful listeners. 

Ravi Sherwell: Hello, listeners. I'm very excited to be in all of your ear holes. 

Jon Harris: And great it is indeed to have you inside of all of our ear holes. Now let's go out and chat about this record, Madness / Medicine. Ravi, what was the greatest moment for you producing this record? 

Ravi Sherwell: Well, it's been a nightmare to get done, so we recorded a single called Bleed for the Crown, and that was in the midst of COVID. So COVID hit. We then went and recorded or started the process of recording with the drummer from Alpha Wolf. So he came on as a session musician for us, and so we recorded those first three songs. So that was Mechanical Hannibals, BATS, and Bleed for the Crown. And then in the middle of that, with COVID kind of ramping up, we thought, well, let's hold this off and put that towards an EP. And so then we just sat on it for such a long time and then went in and re-recorded everything to be part of the Madness / Medicine EP, I think that the best part for us, has just been able to actually get it out after such a long time and so many pitfalls and so many annoyances, completely beyond our control, actually getting it out and getting it to the quality that we wanted has been really our ultimate goal. 

Jon Harris: Wow. Yeah. I mean, recording with the drummer from Alpha Wolf, which would have been awesome having him as a session musician. So you get three songs recorded and then being on hold from COVID anyone can relate to that, raise your hand and then re-recording everything, which, I mean, any other guitar players listening in right now? How many times have you wanted to re-record something? Now's your chance! 

Ravi Sherwell: Haha.

Jon Harris: Now, you mentioned a few things that were beyond your control, and it was kind of a nightmare to get done and a few setbacks, I guess. What was the biggest challenge for you and what did you learn from that? 

Ravi Sherwell: So, I would say the biggest challenge for us was probably we have always run APF as a five piece. And recently, just as I kind of re-entered the band, three of the other guys all kind of decided, hey, I want to kind of step back. I want to pursue, like, personal goals and stuff. And that was cool. I'd already had that time to do that. So I stepped away from the band for a couple of years and went and did my thing, had my girl and got married, bought a house, did all the boring shit. So then once those guys kind of stepped back, it was all basically funded by Danny and I. So going from five income streams to be able to kind of support the beast down to two has been quite challenging. But the upside of that has really been the majority of all the writing has always been between me and Danny. And then it's as I'm sure anyone that's trying to have any kind of group assignments, assessments or music, trying to come up with cohesive ideas with five people is very difficult. But being able to have Danny I have such a long history together of working with one another. We really know how one another thinks, so we knew exactly how we kind of wanted to go about things. So the negative was everything was a lot more financially impacting as well as not as many people to bounce ideas off. The positive for us, though, was we didn't have so many people to bounce ideas off. We know what we want to do. We don't need anyone else to kind of go ahead for it. We're just going to go for it. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. So dropping down from five members to two members sound familiar to anybody? Which, I mean, as you said, though, Ravi, it increases the financial burden because you can no longer divide expenses by five. And if you're not in a band right now where that's evenly happening anyway, well, then I think you know what you got to do. But Ravi also mentioned that it cuts the fat away in terms of being creative, which is a super positive plus, and it's actually worth more than its weight in gold. If you think about how quickly you'll be able to turn things out, eventually the expenses probably won't matter as much because you'll be more creative, you'll be kicking out more stuff, you'll be doing more faster. But Ravi, how do you go about filling in those three spots or those three gaps when you need them? 

Ravi Sherwell: Yeah, our big thing at the moment has been we will get session guys in for shows. Again, the financial burden does kind of sting in saying that, though. I don't think there's ever been a time where I've been more happy doing this in playing with this band is when it's been mean. Danny kind of sitting in a room and it's like, yeah, let's work through this. Let's work through this. Because it's so quick, we have to go through and we're like, we know what we want to do, we know what we're about and we know it works. 

Jon Harris: Knowing what you want, knowing what works. I read that there are some cinematic themes to the record. Take us through that. What are the cinematic themes on this record? 

Ravi Sherwell: In this, I think we counted up yesterday when we were doing a practice and we were kind of running through our Pro Tools rig. I think we had 23 different channels or layers of the varying kind of tracks that we were listening to. So each song had like 23 separate parts to it, which is insane, but he really focused on this record around what he was calling the heartbeat. He got a lot of inspiration from Hans Zimmer and watching movies like Inception, Interstellar and specifically like the Dark Knight movies where they had like this kind of it's not music. It's like a tone that every now and then will kind of creep up. And that's throughout the entirety of the EP. So there's something that's in there. It's a specific track and it will just every now and then it will get louder or quieter and it just pops in and out. And that was really around kind of building the tension. So I think with the music, we really stripped things back a lot so we could kind of get back to the not just heavy music, but the biggest thing that we like is aggressive music. It's not around like heavy bands that still have a really soft kind of approach. That's not what we do. That's not what we're good at. We're really around how raw can we make this while still making it sound like a production to be proud of, as well as having the overall tone there, which is around that aggression. The lyrics kind of jumped between various things that I found to be annoying in adult life over time. I definitely found it to be pretty easy to write once I kind of got into it. So there's things around like cancel culture manipulation and also just like a big thing around victim mentality, so around not allowing things like whether it's a diagnosis or anything along those kind of lines to define who you are. And rather than making it a very uplifting thing, which I think is what we've done in the past and what a lot of bands do, we kind of went the opposite and just went balls to the wall. Very aggressive with it all. 

Jon Harris: The most fun way to be, don't even try to live your life. It's over. 

Ravi Sherwell: Yeah. Fuck, man. Next time is going to be way worse. 

Jon Harris: Exactly. Well, the thing is that I really enjoyed about that, I think a really big, massive heavy hitter or a value bomb for everyone listening in right now is you mentioned Hans Zimmer. I mean, there are so many great composers out there who are doing many different facets of work. And something that he does, as you mentioned, is he creates cinematic tension throughout incredible movies such as Inception and The Dark Knight and using that as an inspiration to craft a cinematic approach to creating tension in a metal record and specifically a Nu-Deathcore. I believe that's what it's called, right? Nu-Deathcore? 

Ravi Sherwell: Yeah. 

Jon Harris: In a Nu-Deathcore record. And even being on the cusp of this new genre, Nu-Deathcore, that decision right there probably was it. And so always look for the greats and it doesn't matter really where it comes from, but learn from the best, stay away from the worst. And Hans Zimmer is definitely one of the best that you could learn from. 

Ravi Sherwell: It's been very cool. And his idea was wild to actually sit down I didn't understand it all to start off with, but then kind of once you kind of sit down and you hear it, especially when you can kind of go through the tracks and you can see it all, it's been very cool to watch. 

Jon Harris: Yeah.  Ravi, how would you define success at this stage of your career with regard to this record release? 

Ravi Sherwell: So, our next biggest goal, so we haven't played a show since the release of Madison. Danny and I also haven't played live together in, I think it's about four or five years now after all the COVID, stepping away to have my child doing all those bits and pieces. So that's really the big next step for us. So we're booking a show at the moment for May in Queensland, which is going to be really good for us, I think the next thing is. So this EP was always going to be, I guess, the re-emergence of our band and around coming back out after a bit of a break between Digital Ritual and this. 

Jon Harris: So this is the first step, hitting the stage, baby, which is super important, especially with the way the world is starting to open up again, being benched, being put on the bench for the last couple of years for a lot of musicians. If you resonate with that, raise your hand. Finally getting back out there and doing what you love to do. But heading into the success question again, you guys got to work with Shane Edwards of North Lane fame for this release. Talk to us about that. 

Ravi Sherwell: We actually met Shane back in 2012 when we just went down to kind of record a single when he was working at a studio called Electric Sun. And we just haven't found anyone, even with most band members that we've just jelled with on such a bizarre level. So he's weird enough that we can kind of walk into a room with him and just feel immediately comfortable. And you need that weirdness. 

Jon Harris: Absolutely. You need that weirdness. Everyone listening in. Right now, you're searching for a producer or an extra band member. You need that weirdness, baby. You need to be able to have that chemistry. You need to be able to jive and gel so that the work just flows. 

Ravi Sherwell: Music has like, you get the best results whenever everything's kind of feeling effortless and free flowing. And I guess the worst thing you can have creatively is someone that's just them kind of just the energy or their persona just is enough to kind of make you kind of clamp up and not really kind of go for any of the ideas that you wanted to try and experiment with. And Shane has always been awesome with that. So I'm pretty sure the first time I recorded vocals with him, he was in the sound studio and I was in the booth and like mid-take, he just pulled up either his or Danny's laptop and while I was just trying to record, he just had porn going and it just completely threw me off. I wasn't expecting that at all, but that's exactly what you need, because immediately all your nerves, all of your tension and everything is gone because two people are just railing each other and you're like, I didn't expect to see that today. Thank you, Shane. We were good for that. 

Jon Harris: And you brought up a really good point, especially for anybody who's going into the studio for the first time, or maybe even you have a budding recording career in the making. Vocals are not easy to record and that was a talented move to make vocals a little bit easier. What was that like for you? I mean, take us back to that moment before he did that and after, where the vocal takes better. What happened? 

Ravi Sherwell: So for me, at that time, I'd only ever recorded a demo and then an EP in someone I go with probably the word peer. So someone like my own kind of age, and that would have been like when I was early 20. So not like an older kind of dude and definitely not like a professional kind of set up. And so we traveled from Queensland down to Sydney, which is where Electric Sun Studios was, which is where we were working with Shane, and that's about a ten hour drive for us. And on top of that, we've had some massive bands that are all recorded there, like Northlane, Trophy Eyes, Helions, some big kind of Australian names. And so going into that environment as like a young 20 year old kind of dude, it was really hard to keep a nerves in check. And especially for me, like, I have this reoccurring nightmare that I'll go in to do something incredibly important music wise, and I'll completely forget how to scream. I can't play any other instruments, so if I forget how to do that, I'm completely fucked. I don't know whether I can swear sorry if hell yeah. And so having all those kind of nerves, it makes you sorry, it makes me the takes. Like, the effort is all there, but it doesn't have that flow and it's like you can really hear it in my voice when it's pushing too hard rather than just doing what I know I should be doing. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. 

Ravi Sherwell: Yeah. So after after that, like, I guess tension all leaving with such an unexpected experience, like, you just kind of really can kind of lean back into the moment and give your best performances. 

Jon Harris: Yeah. Getting the best performance, a ten hour drive to work with the right producer. Having a re-occurring nightmare, forgetting how to scream. Anybody listening in right now? You have a re-occurring nightmare, you're going to give a speech, you're going to be somewhere, you forget how to talk, you forget what you're going to have to say. You're a guitar player, you're going to forget your parts. I don't know. You're a cook, you're on a TV show, you're going to forget how to cut an onion all of a sudden. I mean, raise your hand, baby. You're definitely there with the rest of us, but having a producer like that allows you to, as you said, lean back into the moment. Now, my next question is, what's the number one thing that you want people to do who are listening in right now, Ravi?

Ravi Sherwell: I reckon the best way to go about things is to go over to our YouTube channel or sorry, Eclipse's YouTube channel. So all of our music videos through Eclipse. I think that our music videos are very entertaining and it's not your typical kind of metal stuff where everything's very dark and aggressive. We tried to have some real fun with our music videos, so we tried to make sure that things were aggressive, but also pretty stupid as well. So we found that to be a lot of fun. So that's where I'd be directing listeners. 

Jon Harris: So go ahead and type in As Paradise Falls in the search bar at the top at Today's show notes will pop up with some extra information and all those music videos will be available. Very cool. And then for those who are in Queensland, you can get in touch with all of the relevant links and hopefully see that show that's going to be going on in May. And Ravi, thank you so much for coming on to the Rock Metal podcast today. 

Ravi Sherwell: Yeah, nailed it!