Earlier last week Witherfall masterminds Jake Dreyer and Joseph Michael answered some Questions from German Metal Magazine ROCKHardOriginal Article HERE:
1. Your debut-record came out last month. How were the reactions from your
fans so far?
Joseph- The response has been unbelievable! Jake and I knew going into this that we had created something very special, but we didn't know whether or not it would be well received. Jake was especially cynical... The Industry “Experts” who got advance copies told us that it wouldn't sell, but the numbers have been very good. Who knew Metal fans actually want to hear well crafted compositions with Vocals that actually have melodic attributes.
2. Joseph and Jake: you played together in White Wizzard, before you
started Witherfall. How was it to focus on the new project?
Joseph – With Witherfall we actually could exercise some quality control when it comes to production, songwriting and performances. Also, we are running the operation as opposed to watching someone else with less aptitude try and do it.
JAKE-Witherfall was our project together from the beginning so it meant that we were the ones responsible for everything. The focus is a lot more demanding but at the same time it's the way I prefer because it can be done exactly the way Joseph and I envision. Which could not be said about other projects where you are just a hired gun. It is very refreshing to be able to write songs in a context and boundary that you create and set.
3. You recorded the album in Phoenix, Arizona together with Ralph Patlan,
who already worked with acts like Megadeth or Michael Schenker Group. How
was your collaboration with him and Chris „Zeuss“ Harris, who mastered it?
Joseph – Jake and I had the album arranged and recorded in Demo form in my studio in Los Angeles. We flew Adam down to Phoenix for final tracking. Ralph was hired on to Record,Mix and Master but only ended up performing Tracking Engineer duties. After much strife we found Zeuss and he absolutely nailed what it is we had set out to create.
JAKE-Working with Zeuss who also mixed the record was very easy he is a real pro and knew exactly what we wanted. It took him about a month to deliver everything which is a real accomplishment when you look at the size of the songs and the record as a whole. Ralph Is a very good tracking engineer with a great ear who knows how to get good takes.
4. The record contains many neoclassical parts, especially Jake uses
classical scales in his playing. To me, it sounds like a modern version of
Yngwie Malmsteen. Do you agree?
JAKE-This record was very much influenced by various classical composers and eras. A lot of classical music uses the Harmonic minor scale/Phrygian dominant or the melodic minor scales. So that's where that Yngwie sound comes from since he uses those same things. I am a huge fan of early Yngwie. Witherfall have gotten that comparison quite a bit because it's the neoclassical guitar playing with clean or melodic vocals. Our songs in my opinion sound totally different than Yngwie songs but I think there are very much similarities in certain arenas. I take that as a huge compliment because I really love and respect Yngwie's playing.
Joseph: Jake and I are deep into Classical music. If you listen to
“Nocturnes and Requiems” you will hear many parallels to that early era of composition. I think in the metal community it is really easy to pick out Guitarists that are classically influenced due to the success of the “Shrapnel” style players. Yngwie, Becker, Gilbert etc. But the real “Classical” influence has nothing and I mean absolutely nothing to do with the Technique displayed during the busy “shred” sections. The real essence of the influence is in the Harmonic Movement and Counterpoint that weaves its way through the compositions. Listen to the Chorus section of Portrait. A very simple Vocal Melody harmonized at various points then on the big cadence doubled in octaves... All the while A string part plays a counterpoint melody against the accents in the percussion. Meanwhile another Synth pad pulses in the middle register adding suspensions to Jakes Part.
5. Beside the neoclassical stuff, there are some spanish-influenced parts
for example in 'What We Are Dying For', that remind me of Paco De Lucia.
Who inspired you to do this?
JAKE- Paco de Lucia and Al Di Meola are both some of my biggest influences. I love flamenco music and Latin/Spanish influenced guitar playing and it all pretty much shares a lot of the same harmony so it was very easy to relate. Making two genres blend together seamlessly was always something that was interesting and in "What We Are Dying For" it provided a cool contrast to the song. "Romantic Warrior" by Return to Forever which featured Al Di Meola was a big influence.
6. Are there other important influences you want to mention?
JAKE- besides the ones mentioned above for other guitarists it would be Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Brian May. For bands Queen, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Nevermore, Death, Opeth.
Joseph- King Diamond, Dream Theater and Nevermore for sure. I am a huge fan of big records. Jake loves Pink Floyd, we both love Queen. As far as vocally? I really love singers that don't just sit there in autopilot mode. How many songs in a genre can you listen to with the same vocal delivery? I mean once you have heard a certain style of vocal and yes I am talking about extreme vocals, how much of that do you really want to hear. There are a ton of metal bands out there that I would love to hear just instrumentally because I cannot stand a vocalist who shits on compositions with lazy vocal parts.
7. Joseph, I read that you're the cousin of Ronnie James Dio. Have you ever
sung together or did he even teach you?
Joseph- I never got to meet Ronnie. My family had photos on the walls and I have heard stories. I spoke with him on the phone a couple of times and was an absolute gentleman, not to mention a true vocal artist. Jake and I really bonded early on when we talked about DIO and we both have the same favorite DIO vocal moment.
8. Let's switch to the visual part of the album. What was the idea behind
the Cover-Artwork of your album?
JAKE-That was all done by Kristian Wahlin. Who has worked with King Diamond, Dissection, Wintersun the list goes on. Joseph and I admired his work so much that once he agreed to do our album art we sent him over some pre-production demos we recorded and Joseph sent him over lyrics and Kristian just took it from there.
Joseph- I sent Kristian the demos we had done in my studio and the lyrics. He sent us a sketch with the basic ideas. Looking back that cover gives me chills because of Adam. I wish we had the painting it's like 4' by 4' and hanging in a museum somewhere in Sweden.
10. Both your logo and the album-cover have a dark touch and are linked to
nature. What is your concept regarding this?
Joseph- Jake and I have very similar tastes in Art,Music,Food Inebriants. When we first met up after the shit show that was our previous band it was obvious. Once the first few songs were written we made it a mission to produce a piece of art; “Nocturnes and Requiems” that would be the audio equivalent of reading an amazing piece of literature while drinking the finest wine while semi-nude nymphs frolic in the backround and are sluaghtered. But, you still keep drinking and reading.
JAKE- I believe the darkness just comes naturally with how we write music. So that crossed over into all the visual aspects. Like the music there needed to be some sort of contrast so although it is dark there is beauty in it as well. There is nothing that symbolizes that more than nature.
11. After the tragic loss of your drummer Adam Sagan, you dedicated the
record to his life. Are there already any plans to continue with the band
or is it too early to think about it?
Jake -We definitely will be continuing on as a fully working band as that is how Adam would have wanted his legacy to be carried on. It has been a challenge trying to find someone who can do Adams parts justice but we have auditioned a couple of guys who we will use for touring purposes. Joseph and I have already begun writing a follow up record but it is still at the very beginning stages. Regardless there will for sure be more records from Witherfall.
Joseph – Adam and I became very close after I went out to visit him during his Chemo treatments. He played in some big bands but this was his baby. It is beyond tragic that his life ended the way it did and even more so the timing of it. The album is doing better than we could ever have imagined and he never got to take part in the celebration. His family has been very Adamant(sic) that we need to take Witherfall as far as it will go, to spread the music that Adam Sagan helped create as far as we can. We also have a Translucent Vinyl Edition of the record that we only produced 100 copies of for Fans of Adams that were there from the start.
12. You started with the recordings in 2014, but it has been released this
february. Was the delay coherent to Adams illness?
Joseph - The delay of the record had nothing to do with Adam. He finished his drum parts before he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Ralph Patlan was fired after not delivering mixes for close to a year. That is why “Zeuss” was brought in and he fucking saved the day.
13. Adam also came up with „Nocturnes And Requimes“. Is there a special
message in the title?
JAKE- Adam Joseph and I were at a Thai restaurant during the NAMM show in Anaheim, California during the beginning of 2015 when we were discussing album titles. We were talking about the different classical elements of the record when Adam just blurted out "Nocturnes and Requiems" none of us second guessed it and all came to the conclusion at that moment that that was going to be the name of the record. It's very ironic that Adam came up with that title. As for the message, well he took took that to the grave.
Joseph- Jake and I had been toying with the word Nocturnes for about an hour and by then we were really um, three sheets to the wind. Adam did not really drink very often, but on this occasion he was completely wasted and in celebration mode. Finally he blurted out “Nocturnes and Requiems”. I immediately noticed that it sounded like a Stephen King book title which was fine with Jake and I.
14 What are your plans for the future?
Joseph- We are talking with a few people now to set up the first Witherfall performances and hopefully we can find a band that wants to bring us out on tour that we respect.
15 Anything you want to say?
JAKE- Thank you for the great questions as well as to everyone who read this and supports Witherfall and Nocturnes and Requiems. Very much looking forward to sharing this music with Germany
Joseph- Thanks to everyone that has bought or will buy the record. I cannot wait to see you all out on the road. Anyone reading this can get the album or anything on our site for 15% off using code : rockhard17
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