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April 5, 2000
Shadows Fall's recent Century Media debut 'Of One Blood' has been getting a lot of attention. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed the band's ascension to the top of the New England metal scene. The band's sound has developed from the original bright ideas of guitarists Matt Bachand and Jonathan Donais into a polished amalgamation of all things metal. The music that Shadows Fall creates reflects the band's influences and breaks new ground at the same time. This combination could only be born from musicians that bleed metal. Guitarist Matt Bachand is not only a dedicated member of Shadows Fall, but also a soldier fighting daily battles in the great metal war as a fan, a label owner, a distributor and a zine publisher. The Metal Update was fortunate to catch up with Matt just as the new album was being released to get the inside scoop.
METAL UPDATE: The new album just came out yesterday and there are probably a lot of people who aren't familiar with Shadows Fall. What is the band all about?
MATT BACHAND: Basically, it's not really that complicated. We're just all about playing metal and trying to have a good time doing it. We're trying to incorporate as many styles of metal into our sound as we possibly can. The whole goal really was to try to create something a little bit different from what everyone is used to hearing.
MU: How did the band start?
MB: About four years ago, myself and Jon were looking to do something a little bit different. We had known each other from previous bands we were in. He was in a band called Aftershock and I was in a band called Exhumed [not the Relapse band - mu] and we used to do a lot of shows together. It just kind of came up that we started writing music. We wanted to take our time with it - you know how people start bands and they just jump into it and start writing songs - we really wanted to take our time with it, so we we were writing songs before we even had a drummer or anyone else really involved in it. We took our time to find the right people and it ended up working out really good.
MU: It seems like your vocalist, Brian, was the last piece of the puzzle. Where did he come from?
MB: We've been friends with him for years, as well. He was in Overcast. Overcast and Shadows Fall toured together in '98 during the Summer. We used to play a lot of shows together and that was it - Overcast broke up around the same time we happened to be looking for a singer so we just hooked up.
MU: Although he is obviously the "lead" vocalist, you've really got a three-vocalist-thing going.
MB: We did that on the first record as well, but it wasn't as, I guess, widespread of stylings because Brian's got a few more voices that Phil didn't have.
MU: And what happened to Phil?
MB: He put together a band called All That Remains that's really doing good things right now.
MU: Are they a metal band, also?
MB: Oh, they are. They fit into the Arch Enemy / Soilwork vein. Very technical. Both of their guitarists are music teachers, so they are very well trained.
MU: Is it fair to say that Shadows Fall was influenced by the "Gothenburg Sound"?
MB: Yeah, I would say so. We're all big fans of In Flames and Soilwork, Dark Tranquility and bands like that. I would definitely say we're influenced by that.
MU: Century Media is hyping Shadows Fall as a band with a crossover sound, so I want to play a game. I am going to name some bands, and you tell me whether they are hardcore or metal.
MB: Oh, there's a tough one. I suppose I'd put them in the metal category, at least their latest material.
MB: Metal, obviously.
MU: Napalm Death
MU: Suicidal Tendencies
MU: Shadows Fall
MU: Straight up?
MB: No question about it.
MU: Where do the hardcore comparisons come from?
MB: That's a really good question. I have no idea, honestly, because none of us are into a whole bunch of hardcore. If anyone was into it more than anybody else it would probably be Paul [bass] or even Brian. I really have no idea where that came from. It was never intended to be a hardcore band at all. It is possibly because of some of the bands we've played with in the past. It could also be the Overcast influence. Which is really funny because they are probably more metal than we are.
MU: I know you play out with hardcore bands in the Boston area, and I've seen the hardcore fans take to your music. How did that come about - gigging with hardcore bands?
MB: Well, I think it was just because we wanted to hit a little bit of everything because there are so many different elements of heavy music. We don't want to be pigeonholed. I think that is what happened with Overcast. Everyone assumed that they were a hardcore band and they were the furthest thing from hardcore. They were absolutely a metal band all the way through. Nobody seems to understand that - they're always called hardcore. Even a band like Diecast is very, very metal influenced as opposed to the hardcore side of things. I just think it's cool that those kids are into it, and we want them to be into it. We want everyone to be into it, so we're trying to cater to everyone without being pigeonholed into one specific category. We' ve been called a death metal band. It really depends upon which magazine you read or who you talk to - or what review that you see.
MU: Do you think a lot of hardcore fans might be metal fans and they don't even know it?
MB: I would think so, but a lot of that has changed lately, too. You see a lot of hardcore kids at black metal shows even. At Satyricon the other night, for example, I saw some hardcore kids there - which you wouldn't really expect. I think they are getting into it more.
MU: I read an Earth Crisis article and whoever was being interviewed said something to the effect that they are a hardcore band, but they play metal. Although they identify with the hardcore scene, they feel like they play metal music.
MB: Exactly. Exactly. The only comparison that you can make between us and hardcore is that we are trying to stay true to the roots, I guess you could say. For example, we want to keep it with those kids that come out to see local bands. Just because we are on Century Media now, doesn't mean we're just gonna bail on everyone. We're still gonna stick with it as far as the little shows and the local bands and everything like that.
MU: What do you cite as your influences?
MB: Everything but what you would expect, really. We all listen to very, very different music. It is rare when we all can agree on putting a tape on in the van. When we can agree, it is usually something like Iron Maiden or that sort of music. And that is certainly an influence on us. But as far as different things, I am into a lot of classical music - even a lot of alternative rock stuff. I have, like, Better Than Ezra and I've seen Yanni four times. Then we go over to Jon who is really into 80's rock-n-roll like Skid Row and those kind of bands.
MU: He plays lead guitar, also, right?
MB: Yes. That's where a lot of his influence comes from. People like Zakk Wylde and that kind of music. Although we all lean toward the metal side of things and we all like a lot of hardcore bands and death metal bands, our main influences are really separate. Brian, for example, is an old hippie. He loves Phish and the Dead and those things, but he's also into a lot of power metal like Blind Guardian and Rhapsody, even. Paul's punk rock. Old-school punk rock. That's his influence. And our drummer, Dave, is into Frank Zappa, a lot of jazz stuff, industrial, Nine Inch Nails. So we're really into a huge spectrum of stuff. When we get together it is interesting.
MU: If you were driving across the country in a van with Shadows Fall right now, what would be in the CD player?
MB: That depends on the time of day, really, which is kind of funny. It really ranges. If we get demos at shows that kids give us, we always listen to those. Usually it ends up being some punk rock - some old Misfits. Iron Maiden, always. But there's an after show rule - no distortion. (laughs) Too much metal for the evening and that's it! On the way home from a show - no distortion rule.
MU: How excited are you for the new Iron Maiden?
MB: Very. Incredibly. I actually got to see them when they came to the States a few months back - with Bruce - and they blew me away.
MU: You have high expectations for that album?
MB: I'm trying not to because I don't want to be let down. I'm trying to keep it kind of laid back. Like, "well, it could suck, it could not." Hopefully, when I get it, I'll be knocked on my ass.
MU: I have high hopes after the Adrian Smith / Bruce Dickinson collaborations.
MB: Oh, yeah, yeah those have been excellent. And after seeing them a few months back, I definitely have some expectation of what they're gonna do because they were just unreal.
MU: I think if anyone can help bring metal back to the forefront, it's Iron Maiden.
MB: They've been getting a lot of radio airplay lately, too, at least around here. Like on WCCC out of Hartford, they've been playing old Maiden constantly. I think what it is - right now the new Pantera album is probably turning some heads. Once the Maiden comes out, it's really gonna lock it down.
MU: Are you hearing the new Pantera getting radio play?
MB: I am, yeah. Quite a bit, actually.
MU: What do you think of the new album?
MB: I think it's great.
MU: Are you a Pantera fan from the days of old?
MB: I didn't like much after 'Vulgar', but from the days of old, definitely.
MU: 'Reinventing The Steel' seems to recapture some of that old spirit.
MB: Absolutely. It seems to have, like, the speed and aggression of 'Cowboys' with the sheer heaviness of 'Vulgar' wrapped into one.
MU: It's great that Pantera debuted in the top ten. It is unabashedly a heavy metal album. Lyrically, it's a celebration of metal, itself, so it's great to see that something like that is getting purchased by multitudes of people.
MB: There's so many bands that get neglected because of certain things, like Hammerfall for example. Some random mainstream kid would pick up one of those records and laugh at it. There's so much good material on there that they're missing out on, so hopefully these new records will turn some heads
MU: Let's get back to Shadows Fall, your previous album was 'Somber Eyes To The Sky'. Have you put out anything else?
MB: Yeah, we had a demo out. We made, like, 200 copies. It was really intended just for us to work on things. The bass player at the time was just temporary. Even Dave was just temporary at the time, but he liked the way things were going so he decided to stick with us. It just kind of took off. People got their hands on it and we started getting shows.
MU: How did you go about getting 'Somber Eyes To The Sky' together? Was that totally self-financed?
MB: Absolutely, and the label on it, Lifeless Records, is something that I run myself. I have seven or eight bands signed to the label now, but that's how it started out. We were just looking for something to slap on the album to make it look more professional and it turned into something. So that album was totally self-financed and self-promoted.
MU: It was picked up in Europe.
MB: Yes. Genet Records out of Belgium did a repress.
MU: Did they promote it? Did it sell?
MB: As far as I know, they've gone through a few thousand over there. Total worldwide sales, we're up near 15,000 right now which is really, really good for a self-financed release. We're incredibly surprised with that.
MU: How did Century Media pick up on it? Were there any other labels interested?
MB: There were a few, but nothing really serious. The reason we decided to forge ahead with Century Media is that their roster is very diverse. They have Cryptopsy and they have the Gathering who are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but still in the metal category. That was something that was important to us.
MU: Now the album just came out, do you feel like they are way getting behind Shadows Fall?
MB: I think they are doing a great job, so far. With the advance promo they 've done in the past few months - I've seen teaser ads in magazines and we' ve done a lot of interviews and such. and the album just came out yesterday. So they've been really working hard.
MU: Who produced the new album?
MB: The new album was produced by a friend of ours, actually, who goes by the name of Zeus. We've known him forever and he knew what we were doing with the band. He was on the inside. He was there from day one, so he knew exactly what sound we were looking for. He has his own studio and everything, so we asked him to really push us and make sure we did the best we could do with it.
MU: It sounds awesome.
MB: Yeah, he did a great job.
MU: Some of the songs from 'Somber Eyes To The Sky' made it on the new album.
MU: Were those re-recorded?
MB: They were.
MU: "Revel In My Loss", "Fleshold" and "To Ashes" made the cut. How were those songs picked?
MB: They just seemed to fit the format of some of our new material. Some of the other tunes on the first record seemed a little more basic and more toward the old style. Plus "To Ashes" has really been a popular live song. "Fleshold" has that basic aggression to it that always pulls through live. We wanted to take some of that material and show it to people who are not familiar with us.
MU: This is a weird time with the album just coming out. I'm glad that I caught you because I feel like at any time you'll be heading out on the road.
MB: Yeah, we're actually planning on going out in mid May. The thing is, Jon is doing his last semester of college. He's just finishing up, so we're waiting until he's done with that then we're hitting the road.
MU: Who would you like to hit the road with? What's the dream tour?
MB: Well, obviously, the dream tour would be with someone like Pantera or Iron Maiden or someone along those lines. But we'd love to go out with a band like In Flames or even more mainstream acts like Sevendust or Slipknot. Right now it's looking like we are going out with All Out War and then we just got confirmed today for the Dismember tour.
MU: That's coming around the U.S.?
MB: You heard it here first - the Metal Update!
MU: That's awesome! Who else is on that bill?
MB: Don't know yet.
MU: Any plans for Europe?
MB: Not yet. I'd like to get over there later this year. I'm assuming it's going to be some time after the summer is over.
MU: It would be cool to get in on some of the summer festivals.
MB: Yeah, I know. Unfortunately, the time is kind of close. Hopefully the album will pick up quick over there. We've been getting a lot of good responses from the first record over there, so I don't think it will be a problem. We've been getting a lot of good response from Japan, even - really good response from Japan.
MU: Back to the US. I could see Shadows Fall going out with this Tattoo The Earth tour.
MB: Yeah. That's something we're actually really interested in. Hopefully, somehow that could work out.
MU: It's getting to be last minute at this point, but how key would that be?
MB: That would be unbelievable.
MU: Unbelievable exposure.
MB: And a lot of those crossover type bands. I think that would be the perfect spot.
MU: You recently played the March Metal Meltdown. What was your overall impression of the event considering you were both a part of it and taking it all in as a metal fan.
MB: Well, I think it could have been presented better, and the major problem is the same every time. It was simply too big as far as the rooms themselves. Too much echo. The sound is always sketchy and that is really important if you are going to see a band like that. You want them to sound good, obviously. You pay good money to get in there, and you don't want to hear someone suck. Regardless of how hard the band tries, it's still not going to be there with the sound. That's really important. Two stages with the curtain in between them was not very cool at all, I don't think. I also didn't like the fact that the vendors were in different rooms. I thought it was kind of sketchy that they were all spread out. But overall, it's always a good excuse to spend two days away from home and two days with metal and beer. You can't go wrong.
MU: And the place just wasn't designed to be a concert hall.
MB: Absolutely, in fact, when Immortal was playing, I didn't even go see them because I knew that I was going to see them in Worcester a few weeks later. I knew it would sound better, and I didn't want to be let down by them.
MU: Let's go back and talk a little bit about your label, Lifeless Records.
MB: Well, there's really not much to tell. Basically, all I'm trying to do is help out the little guy - that helped me out in the past 10 years that I' ve been trying to play music and get it out there. I am trying to help a lot of the bands that have the potential to get somewhere, but don't really know how to handle the business side of the whole thing - the promotions and getting it to distributors and things like that. I'm trying to give them the push they need that they really don't know how to do themselves.
MU: Are they all Northeastern bands?
MB: Right now they are all Northeastern bands, but I am looking elsewhere. I am not just keeping it local. I am trying to keep it with bands that really have the potential to get somewhere but are having a hard time doing so.
MU: What kind of distribution do you have for Lifeless? Is it going through underground distros?
MB: Yeah, there are some places like - the Japanese are really, really doing a lot. They are buying quite a bit, actually. There's a few distros in Japan that have picked it up, and a couple of other miscellaneous European ones. In the US, Relapse is carrying some product now and Century Media will be carrying it shortly. I am trying to do it on a scale where it won't get out of hand so that I can't control everything. I like to keep my hands in the pot a little bit to make sure things are going the way I originally intended. I don't have a lot of people working with me, so I just want to keep it small-scale right now because I have to focus on Shadows Fall. So, we'll see what happens.
MU: How do you work financing and such?
MB: I pay for the promo and everything like that and I pay myself back with some percentage record sales. I'm not really out to make money with this thing. I just want the bands to get where they can and, hopefully, sign them off to a bigger label. That's really the goal.
MU: But at any time you could be out on the road with Shadows Fall.
MB: Well, I do have one or two people who are helping me out with things. They're gonna take care of filling orders and such because I also do distribution for other labels. They'll take care of that for me while I'm away, but I'll be in contact the whole time. I'll have the laptop with me and I'll be right on top of things. It'll give me something to do while I am driving from Florida to California.
MU: Is there a Lifeless Records website?
MB: It's not finished yet, but I am working on it. That's another thing. I have to maintain all that myself, too, and the Shadows Fall webpage, and personally answer all the email .
MU: Do you do the actual HTML?
MU: As an underground band that's just breaking out onto a major independent, how do you see the internet affecting what you do?
MB: Well, it's definitely helping spread the word quite a bit, as far as other parts of the world that wouldn't normally get their hands on it. It's near impossible to write a letter and pop it in the mail to somewhere in Indonesia, but you can just write an email and send it and it's there. It's very convenient. I'll say that. It's definitely helped me out with Lifeless and the band as well when we were promoting it before we were signed and everything else. It's a crucial part of what we do.
MU: Does Shadows Fall have any legal MP3s out on the web?
MB: There are some MP3's at the Century Media site. I am not sure about others, though. There could be tons of them out there, but I have no idea.
MU: How about for Lifeless? Do you have MP3s at the site?
MB: I am working on it. I am trying to upgrade my computer so I can start recording MP3s and getting them up there.
MU: And you do a zine, too.
MB: Lifeless Magazine. It goes with the label. It's another thing that I'm doing, like I don't do enough. (laughs)
MU: How many issues have you put out?
MB: I just did a little preview one to have for the New England Metalfest that was back in February. The next one's going to be the first real, solid issue. It'll probably be at least 64 pages and I'm really trying to work hard on it and make sure it's not half-assed. I want it to be really solid.
MU: How are you going to get it out there?
MB: Just by trading, pretty much. I'm hoping to have it so I can just give them away. I don't want to have to sell them. I mean, everyone should know how to find good metal and to read about it and not have to pay for it. That's my whole goal with that. I just want to spread the word of metal.
MU: Well, you've got a lot going on.
MB: Too much.
MU: And you're all working day jobs or going to school?
MB: Yeah, yeah.
MU: Will you have to quit your day jobs in order to go on tour?
MB: At least put them on hold. Most of our jobs are pretty cool about that. That shouldn't be a problem. Shadows Fall is our fist priority, if we have to quit jobs, we will. I've quite at least two over this band already, so if it has to be done, it will be done.
MU: What's the next goal for Shadows Fall?
MB: Get out on the road. That's what we've been waiting for. We want to just get out there and play as many shows and tours as we possibly can.
MU: Anything else you want to share with the Metal Update readers?
MB: They should know that if they see us at a show, they can buy us a drink. (laughs) Don't be afraid, we'll drink it!
-- LINKS --
review of Shadows Fall's 'Of One Blood'
Matt's review of the Massachussetts Metal Festival
-- CREDITS --
Interview: Brant Wintersteen [email@example.com]
Photography: Cynthia Pelzner [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Webmaster: WAR [email@example.com]
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