AUGUST 1st 2017

BYZANTINE EXCLUSIVE

 

Welcome to MetalTitans, Guardians of Music Entertainment Worldwide. We are here with Chris from BYZANTINE, who hail from Charleston, West Virginia. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.

First I must ask how you came up with the name Byzantine. If you look it up on Google, it says “The Byzantine Empire from the late Antiquity and Middle Ages”- does that have anything to do with your name?

When I was searching for a band name in early 2000, I had a list of about 10 names. I did a search online for anything synonymous with the term “complicated” and Byzantine came up. I knew from school that Byzantine was the empire that succeeded the Roman Empire but apparently the Byzantine empire was known for having an extremely complicated yet underhanded judicial system. I thought that name fit our band’s music at the time perfectly.

You are about to release your newest album "The Cicada Tree"- how did you choose this name?

Last spring we experienced the phenomena known as the 17 year Cicada. It’s a breed of locust that lives underground for 16 years and emerges for only 3 months to morph into an adult, mate and die. I was enthralled by the swarm that was underneath the tree in my front yard. My girlfriend playfully suggested we name our album “The Cicada Tree”. It took about 2 weeks of thinking before I realized that our band was 17 years old and spent most of our career underground. The parallel between Byzantine and The 17 yr Cicada was too much to ignore.

The release date is July 28, through Metal Blade Records- tell us what we might expect to hear from this album?

This album is a continuation of the musical evolution of Byzantine. It’s a tad darker than our last album and has a tremendous ebb and flow to it. There’s a few bangers on the album interspersed between a few songs that really take the listener down the rabbit hole. Overall, I feel it is a really good representation of the band at this current time of our career.

You have 11 tracks, Do you personally have a favourite? If so why that one.

1. New Ways to Bear Witness

2. Vile Maxim

3. Map of the Creator

4. Dead as Autumn Leaves

5. Trapjaw

6. The Subjugated

7. Incremental

8. The Cicada Tree

9. Verses of Violence

10. Moving in Stereo (The Cars cover)

11. Servitude (Fishbone cover)

HA! That’s like asking me which child I like best. It changes from week to week. I can tell you that we purposely backloaded the album, even though all our singles will be coming from the front part of the album. We like to hide some of our best tracks near the end to give people who actually buy the whole album the best listening experience.

How did you come to choose The Cars / Fishbone covers?

We have always done cover songs of various rock and metal genres. It keeps you on your toes and allows us to show various influences. We’ve done covers by EyeHateGod, Judas Priest, Fear Factory and Alice n Chains so digging into The Cars and Fishbone was a logical step. Our lead guitarist, Brian “Hendo” Henderson absolutely loved The Cars song so we picked that for him and I have been a fan of the Fishbone tune since High School. These two covers were bucket list moments for us!

Was it an easy process from writing to getting it all done and complete?

This album came pretty smoothly. It typically takes us around 4 months to write and demo out a full Byzantine album. The first few weeks are always rough but once the creative juices start flowing the floodgates open. At this stage in our career, I rarely ever 2nd guess the direction the demos are going. This album felt really good even during the demo stage.

You have a tour with Sacred Reich after the album’s release. Do you have any other touring plans this year?

We have 6 regional headlining dates in advance of the Sacred Reich tour to help us get the road rust knocked off. After the Sacred Reich tour we will stay home through the winter and be with families over the holidays. Next spring, we hope to be back on tour hitting as many festivals as we can to continue the tour cycle for “The Cicada Tree”.

Who designed the album cover?

The album cover was designed by UK graphic artist Christopher Lovell. He is one of the best pen and ink artists in the world. He also designed our last album cover as well. Christopher has been a fan of our band since the debut album so we were able to get him on board and we feel extremely fortunate to have his amazing talent on display for Byzantine.

Did you give the artist some direction, or did he come up with the idea himself?

Christopher Lovell had never actually seen a Cicada before so I had to send him some entomological examples of the insect as well as a documentary showing how they moved and interacted with each other. I gave him the basic idea I  had in my mind and he ran with it and turned it into some better than I could ever had imagined!

Looking back on the completed album, do you wish you could change anything?

I always wish I could change things. It mainly always centers on my vocal takes as I still don’t feel like I’m as good a vocalist as I could be. I train properly for the studio but the amount of singing you have to do in such a short amount of time takes a toll on you. Musically I am happy with the album. I guarantee you that Jay Hannon (producer, mix engineer) and I could mix on an album forever and never be 100% happy.

Tell us something about the band that we might not know…

Our dayjobs are like this…

Drummer - driver for FedEx

Bassist - fitness instructor

Lead guitarist - bartender

Myself - Bathroom remodeler

You did a Pledgemusic campaign for the new album - did you reach your goal?

For this campaign, we didn’t set a pre-defined goal since it was solely a Preorder campaign. The album has already been completed and paid for by Metal Blade Records. This was simply a way for our fans who were used to us going through a crowdfunding site to have an semblance of normalcy when Pre-ordering their merchandise. Also, Pledge Music casts such a wide social media net it would be counterproductive to not include them in the Pre-order phase.

Would you do this again for another album?

Absolutely. We most likely will do this EVERY album.

When you are about to release a video, how do you choose which one to release first?

The staff at Metal Blade suggests which songs we should release as the singles, lyric videos, playthrough videos, etc. We as a band discuss their suggestions and move accordingly. We swapped the songs for the lyric video and playthrough video but other than that, we took Metal Blades suggestions and ran with it.

It is hard these days to be in a band - What makes you keep going?

 I’ve been in some sort of metal band since 1991. At this age, 26 years later, it would be completely foreign to me to NOT be in a band. I have structured my family life and work life so that I have ample time to manage the band that I am in. It’s too big of a cathartic outlet for me to let it go at this point in my life. Ask me this again when I hit 50 and I might have a different answer!

When you are not working with the band, what could we find you doing?

I have 2 daughters, Mallory is 9 and Aida Jean is 8 months old. If Im not doing Byzantine stuff I am spending time with them and my girlfriend Allison. The rest of the time I am at work remodeling bathrooms and keeping the bills paid!

Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that I might have missed?

We have 2 weeks until our Pre-order campaign is finished. You can get your hands on new Byzantine music and apperal at:

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/byzantine2017

Trapjaw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro5Innvk0bo

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http://twitter.com/byzantinewv