SEPTEMBER 7th 2015

MetalTitans had an exclusive opportunity to speak with Caleb Bingham, guitarist and lead vocalist of ASCENSION, a power trio combining classic metal with black/thrash metal.

You formed "Ascension" back in 2004, the project has been on and off for a few years, did the exposure to playing with outside bands influence the sound of the band? Or did you keep it separate?

Honestly I feel the sound of the band has evolved independently over the years. I mean of course I am influenced by all music I hear and play, but I don't feel like I have ever made a conscious effort to sound more like this or that other band…  

The full album, "The Order of the Silver Compass", can you tell us the inspiration behind the material?

A couple years back I was visiting my grandparent's graves back in Ohio. While there I noticed the seals of the Freemasons/OES on their headstones. I was very close with my grandfather when I was young but was never informed that either him or my grandmother were involved with those organizations. I am not a member of any Lodge or affiliated Masonic organizations and never really knew much about them growing up, so after this discovery at the cemetery I began to read up on them and the various groups that preceded them throughout history. Soon after this I acquired my Washburn Flying V guitar with the mirrored top, noticed the similarity between its shape and the Masonic compass emblem and then decided to title the record "The Order of the Silver Compass." Some of the lyrical content is loosely based on their history as well as a little added help from Dan Brown among others… Haha!

Ascension is considered a "trio" band, what made you decide to stick to 3 members only, instead of splitting up some of the responsibilities?

Many of my favorite bands over the years have been trios. It allows a lot more breathing room for the bass guitar which is something that is typically lacking in modern metal. Plus it makes the internal workings of the band much more streamlined having less members as well…

Where did the name "Ascension" come from?

I thought it up back in high school when I was first toying around with the idea of forming my own band. A lot of people ask if it has some sort of religious or Biblical significance (Catholics usually!) but for myself Ascension is more of a spiritual concept. Rising above and overcoming one's struggles or shortcomings or something to that effect…

Can you describe to us the process of creating the imagery for the album artwork? Is it something you designed, or did an artist come in with ideas as well?

I had very little involvement with that side actually. Most of the credit has to be given to the fantastic graphic artist we have been collaborating with, Jorden Haley. I basically just gave him the album title and lyrics and he took it and ran with it. We are very pleased with the result!

Does Ascension have plans to tour in support of the latest record? If so, where and when, if it can be said at this point?

We're heading out the end of September in the US with Chris Amott's band Armageddon. We very much look forward to it and we hope to see everyone reading this at a gig. Tell all your friends and enemies too!  

When you had to put Ascension aside to tour and pursue other projects, do you feel those experiences helped you with both the touring and business side of music?

Oh definitely. I have been living out of a suitcase and traveling all over doing music since my late teens. This lifestyle definitely teaches you to live frugally and survive on almost nothing. Even if these experiences don't always end well, you always learn something from every situation and hopefully make a few connections that can prove helpful on down the line.

When you compare the music industry years ago to how internet and "free streaming" of music today, do you feel these elements have helped the industry or destroyed it?

I lean toward the latter. I feel that the traditional business method of having a manager or A&R person seek out the most talented bands and musicians available was a successful one. There needs to be a filtration mechanism between the "talent" (I use that term loosely in this day and age) and the public. Unfortunately due to corporations like Avid (who makes the ProTools DAW software) and Guitar Center, they have sold the general public on the idea that "they too can be a musician for the low price of ____" in an effort to turn a larger profit. This couldn't be further from the truth. Not everyone has what it takes to do this professionally. Not everyone's music deserves to get put out. This corporate marketing scheme has led to too many people playing and too few listening and has made it virtually impossible for the really talented groups out there to get noticed. Nobody has the time or interest to sift through millions of garbage bands that should never have been allowed to leave their garages or bedrooms to find the handful of great ones out of the lot of them…

Is there anywhere you haven't toured in the world (with Ascension or other projects) that you would like to tour and see?

I have toured all over Europe/UK and the US/Canada with other projects but definitely want to make the rounds in those places again with Ascension. I have yet to play in Asia, South America, Africa or Australia but would love to tour through them all as soon as possible. I'd play a gig in Antarctica as well if Coca Cola was willing to send us down there like they did with Metallica… Haha!

Is there anything you would like to say or add to this interview and let Ascension fans know of?

I would like to thank all of our fans for sticking with Ascension through years of ups and downs and long breaks. It has been a long and hard road to get to this point and we are so grateful for the support and encouragement. We love you all and hope you love the new record when it gets released. See you on the road!

Thank you for doing this interview with MetalTitans. We wish you great success in the future of Ascension.

Thank you Char! All the best to you and MetalTitans as well!

Check out Ascension Below: