As you know MetalTitans are a huge proponent of new talent and this time around we’re catching up with guitarist/vocalist Taylor Washington of the Atlanta based metal act Paladin. The band has recently issued a two track demo and if you’re into old school metal then this band will be right up your alley.
MetalTitans: What’s the metal scene like in your part of the country?
Taylor Washington: Atlanta has a pretty big thrash/black/death scene. Sludge/stoner stuff is also still prevalent, which shouldn't be a surprise considering the number of those bands to come out of Atlanta/Georgia. What IS maybe surprising is the complete lack of a power metal scene. You'd think there'd be something given that ‘ProgPower’ has been held here for, what, like15 years? There's really not much outside of a few bands, most notably Theocracy and Halcyon Way. Hoyt Parris of Pathfinder Productions has been doing a great job of keeping the prog/power beacon lit for a good many years, it's a shame the scene hasn't blossomed. Atlanta definitely seems to prefer the grittier, heavier, more extreme types of metal.
MetalTitans: For those that aren’t familiar with the band give us a little history on the band such as; formation of the band and the name. I’m really curious about the origins of the name.
Taylor Washington: Me, Alex Parra (guitar) and our original drummer Aaron Baumoel were all in another band called Sybaritic that essentially broke up back in 2015. We decided to take the songs I had written and continue under a new name. Alex actually played bass for Sybaritic, but he's been one of my favorite guitarists in Atlanta for this type of music and we have very complimentary playing styles, so having him switch over to second guitar for Paladin was the obvious choice for both of us I think. I decided to take over vocal duties, which has honestly been one of my biggest challenges musically. I had never done any kind of vocals in a band, and singing while playing was not something that came naturally to me. We had a couple shows lined up within a month of forming, so I really had to bust my ass to prepare. [laughs] We couldn't secure a bass player in time for those shows either so we actually used bass backing tracks. Shortly after that we were able to get our friend Ian Florence to join on bass. Alex and I had been trying forever to get him involved with another project of ours, Epyon, so I was stoked to finally have him on board.
Originally there were no clean vocals at all. I only used harsh vocals, which is pretty weird to look back on. I kept ruminating over what direction I wanted to take the band in and eventually decided on using a mixture of harsh and clean vocals. Aaron and I had creative differences and he hated my clean vocals, so he ended up quitting around July 2015. Everything kind of stagnated for a while after that until we found Nate McKinney at the very end of that year. We started playing shows again around April 2016 and it's been real groovy since.
As for the name ‘Paladin,’ that was actually Aaron’s suggestion. It ended up being one of the only names thrown around that at least one of us didn't hate, plus there hadn't been a million other metal bands with the same name, so we decided to go with it. Of course there's the historical association with Charlemagne, but it's also a staple in virtually any kind of fantasy based universe. Literature, video games, Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft, it's pretty ubiquitous. We're all pretty nerdy and the music is kind of nerdy too, so it ended up being a good fit.
MetalTitans: I lived through the ‘first wave of thrash metal’ in the 80s. It was a fantastic time. Do you think some of the new acts taking the retro look too far? At times it’s like they spend more time in the look than on the music.
Taylor Washington: I think it's pretty easy for people to get caught up more in the aesthetic of a certain subculture or style of music than the music itself. It's to be expected to some degree, but it does irritate me when bands are more style than substance. Gimmicks and theatrics can be cool, but only if they're backed by really solid music. Enforcer is balls deep in their retro gimmick, but the music’s badass so I'm okay with it.
MetalTitans: You issued a two track demo for public consumption with the tracks “Call of the Night” and “Bury the Light.” ‘Bury’ the light?! That’s heavy. That title alone made me want to listen. Paladins are no question a throwback to the glory days of thrash metal. There’s a lot of ‘Bay Area Thrash’ influence on there. In fact, there was a Seattle based act that I loved years ago called ‘Forced Entry;’ I hear some of that in there.
Taylor: Thanks man! The title and lyrics for the song “Bury the Light” were again Aaron’s contribution. [laughs] We have been considering using that for the title of the full length too, which we still might do.
It’s funny, I love ‘thrashy riffs’ and ‘thrashy music,’ but I never got huge into the thrash scene. I’ve always been more of a power metal guy. So a lot of underground thrash bands and even some of the bigger ones I've never really listened to. It might come as a shock, because like you said there is definitely a strong thrash influence in the music.
MetalTitans: So is Paladin shopping the demo to labels or will you be recording an album independently at this point?
Taylor Washington: We are currently shopping the demo to labels. The plan is to fund the album ourselves, but if we end up getting a label to help with that or with distribution that would be amazing.
MetalTitans: Back in the 80s we used to record mix tapes [cassettes] we’d have themes. Give us a potent dose of 10 tracks by 10 artists that have influenced you and the band’s sound.
Taylor Washington: Oh man, 10 tracks?!
Angra – “The Temple of Hate”
Children of Bodom – “Hatebreeder”
Galneryus – “Silent Revelation”
In Flames – “Artifacts of the Black Rain”
Into Eternity – “Timeless Winter”
Lost Horizon – “Think Not Forever”
Nevermore – “42147”
Racer X – “Superheroes”
Scar Symmetry – “Ghost Prototype I”
Sex Machineguns – “Demaedo Icchokusen”
Twilightning – “Gone to the Wall”
I tried but I could only narrow it down to 11?! I hope that's acceptable?! I should also mention that video game music, in particular Mega Man, is a huge influence for me.
MetalTitans: What’s your take on Metallica performing with Lady Gaga on the Grammys?
Taylor Washington: I thought it was an interesting idea with poor execution. The onstage ‘mosh pit’ filled with models was lame. I like Lady Gaga but some of her moves were a bit much. The whole thing was too ‘try hard’ and on the nose, but I suppose that should've been expected given the nature of it and the fact that it was on the Grammys. I'll admit it was satisfying to see Hetfield kick over the mic stand and hurl his guitar offstage in frustration at the end. I was waiting for him to get pissed off about the faulty mic.
MetalTitans: What do you think really went through Dave Mustaine’s mind when he heard “Master of Puppets” playing when he won a Grammy for ‘Dsytopia?!’
Taylor Washington: Dude, who knows what, goes through Dave’s mind at any given moment. I have to imagine it was like a nuclear bomb going off.
MetalTitans: Which do you prefer and why:
Let’s start with Deep Purple Mark II, III or VI?
Taylor Washington: Mark III. David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes are two of the greatest rock voices in history, in my opinion.
MetalTitans: Grim Reaper or Venom?
Taylor Washington: Grim Reaper. I'm not well versed in either band, but I've never gotten into Venom.
MetalTitans: Exodus or Death Angel?
Taylor Washington: Exodus. Better riffs, better vocals, better songs.
MetalTitans: Anthrax or Overkill?
Taylor Washington: Overkill, except for the slower stuff.
MetalTitans: Metallica or Megadeth?
Taylor Washington: Metallica. Pretty much all the lead guitarists in Megadeth have been amazing; Kiko Loureiro and Marty Friedman are two of my biggest influences. And of course there are a ton of great songs. But they just can't stand up to early Metallica for me, especially ‘Ride the Lightning.’ I'm not a fan of Mustaine’s vocals either.
MetalTitans: Slayer or Kreator?
Taylor Washington: This goes back to what I was saying earlier about bigger thrash bands that I've never gotten into. I've never really dug Slayer and I've never really listened to Kreator. Probably blasphemous, but it's true. I can see everyone readying their pitchforks. [laughs]
MetalTitans: Queensryche [La Torre] or Queensryche with Geoff Tate or Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime?
Taylor Washington: I love the early Queensryche albums as well as Geoff Tate’s voice, but Todd La Torre is the man. I honestly think he almost sounds like a better version of Tate. I've heard a couple songs from the latest Queensryche album and thought they were pretty good. I've also seen them twice with La Torre and both times were amazing.
MetalTitans: Steel Panther or Wheeler Walker, Jr.?
Taylor Washington: I'm a Steel Panther fan, but only in more moderate doses. Some of the stuff is clever or funny, but there’s some that’s too crude for me. Satchel rips and Michael Starr has some pipes.
MetalTitans: Are there any plans to tour at all this year?
Taylor Washington: Yes! We’re doing a very small east coast tour at the start of June. I'd like to do more, later in the year if scheduling permits. The plan is to have our full-length out by year’s end, so hitting the road in support of that would be great.