Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe your band as artists?
Grant (Lead Vocals) -Weird Metal is probably the best description. We’re using metal as a common ground for expression, so we put no emphasis on whether anyone else will get what we do.
We don’t really discount any ideas, naturally there’s stuff that goes on the back burner, we’ve still got albums worth of riffs and structures floating around from as far back as 2019. It’s all about what we’re feeling at the time. A riff or a set of lyrics might be good, but not convey what we’re feeling at the time, and I think if you get that view, you get the deeper meaning of what we do.
We don’t think “Is this a good song?”, we think “Does this convey what we want it to?” be that ability, emotion or message. This is art to us, it’s therapy to us. It’s an outpouring of what we are, what we love, what we’ve experienced and what we believe.
We’re drawing influences from everywhere. From musical theatre. Yes you read that right, like West Side Story and Les Miserables. We’re pulling emotion from the scores and scripts of the games we’re playing, the books we’re reading, the TV show’s we’re bingeing. All that art in all it’s forms just gets swilled around with the emotions of 4 guys who’ve led pretty complex lives.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background?
Grant – All 4 of us have been active musicians over the last 15 to 20 years, and been involved in multiple diverse projects.
The original incarnation of Acherontia Styx included me and Paul, we were taking things a bit more seriously back then, wanting to be rockstars. If people heard early Styx they’d hear a more genre specific sound associated with melodic death metal.
Paul has black metal projects, and dreamy synth projects on the go, he’s been involved in really diverse collaborations too. There’s what I would refer to as a “deep sleep” genius to what Paul does. He either invokes floating dreams, or serrated nightmares with his creative output.
Adam and Jake have pretty much co-existed as a creative package for as long as they’ve been friends. I got involved in a really fun and silly, but unfortunately short lived project with them years ago that I think sets the tone for modern Styx.
Adam is beyond gifted, it’s not even an exaggeration just how good of a guitarist this guy is. During lockdown, the guy was involved in collaborations with Bradley Hall, Joel Hoekstra and Michael Angelo Batio for christs sake. Those are the levels of talent that you should compare Adam to, the guy is an absolute monster.
Jake brings a grounded beauty to what we do. The dude is extremely talented and passionate. His strong ethics mean he sees the world for all it’s flaws, but doesn’t let humanities bleakness cloud his wish to see it be all that it can be. He brings that out in all of us too, there’s like a “What would Jake do” ethos that just makes people want to be better.
As for me, my background is conventional. Live gigs with a variety of bands. I started as a bassist, but switched to vocals after I got a bit tired of dealing with egos. Not that ego is exclusively a lead singer problem, but I think a vocalist without ego definitely helps reduce friction. I can flip a “frontman switch”, but that gets turned off the minute the lights go down. I think that concept of no egos really binds us. We’re not here fighting for attention and influence. We exist separately, and we exist as one.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
Grant – I touch on it before that our influences find common ground in metal. 90s and post millennium metal kind of sits at our core. Machine Head, Arch Enemy, Carcass, Black Dahlia Murder etc, etc. These kinds of bands and that era are the avenues that bind us.
Adam very much draws in from broader musical sources. Not like bands, aurally he’s a melting pot of anything that inspires him like classical scores and soundtracks. The dude had the score from Assassin’s Creed playing at his wedding, which is a truly stunning piece of music. That says it all
Pauls tastes span from 60s Prog into Black Metal. Theres polarity in what he brings, from Pink Floyd to Mayhem. The flair and outside the box thinking that that extremity brings is incalculable. It’s flourish in areas people don’t usually think to flourish.
Jakes tastes are raw. There’s punk in there, there’s grind in there. It’s that music that inspires through it’s humility and is bound by passion and comradery. His influences are those that bring out what’s closest to heart.
My focus on music has always been emotion. My two favourite singers are Terry Reid and Sammy Davis Jnr. I’m like a sensory hedonist. The closer anything feels to someone trully bearing their soul, the more I enjoy it.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
Grant – I mean, I don’t think anyone would object to being able to make music for a living. But the life that comes with that is fraught with dangers. The road to fame and success in most art, not just music, is littered with tragedy. That’s before you even get to the destination.
You only need to look at the musicians we’ve lost and how we lost them, to know what that life does to people.
I think perhaps in that sense, we have no aspirations. We will keep doing what we do regardless. There’s no endgame with us.
To quote Bill Hicks “It’s all just a ride”.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
Grant – Any time there’s a genuine emotional reaction to what we do, thats the pride.
We’re naturally proud of ourselves for our creative output over the years, be they gigs or releases, but it goes deeper than just that
The other day a good friend listened to Blackened Serenade, and said to me that she had goosebumps listening to it. It’s these kinds of reactions that give us the most pride.
Another guy told us that he’s been listening to us during MRI scans. The dudes seriously ill, and he’s using our material to help deal with a really scary point in his life.
You have to be proudest if someone, anyone, truly feels what we’ve done.
Also, Ricky Scarborough, we’re thinking of you brother, stay strong.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
Grant – Thats us man. We’re 4 old dudes that are just unleashing what we love into the world. We’ve grown up and sculpted what we are in the days before home studios. Man my 1st releases masters were done on DAT in the late 90s.
This digital age is just as impactful as the invention of wax cylinder recordings. Some might look at the modern climate as being oversaturated, and if your focus is gaining listeners and revenue, then you’re absolutely right, it is. It’s not helped by shifts in the culture of live performance.
I used to run a venue, the other day I was reminded about what was at the time a shitty little 100 capacity gig I put on about 15 years ago. As time has progressed, that gigs bill includes what are now a repeated contender for UK Christmas Number One, and a Playboy Centerfold. These gigs, these places, they are where you see and hear the things that you look back and think “I can’t believe that happened”.
Small venue live music needs a huge injection of support, because those kinds of experiences are unmatched.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
Grant – Literally none. That’s not what we’re doing or where our focus is.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
Grant – It’s a blessing and a curse in equal measure. It’s a platform that allows maximum exposure, but it’s saturated to a level where you’re only visible if you can pay to be visible.
But that makes it no different to any other medium. You’ve always had to pay for better reviews, you’ve always had to pay to get onto bigger gigs and tours.
It’s why it’s important to dig and delve into whats available. If you like something, support it. Buy, subscribe, whatever. If you see that glimmer, reach out and grab it, before it gets washed away.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Grant – I’m only speaking for myself here but you could take any Faith No More song or album as an answer in that respect. I think probably Everythings Ruined.
From a creative vision perspective, artists like Faith No More, like Frank Zappa, anyone who’s creative output was defined by their personal fulfilment and not by the will to acquire more fans.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
Grant – The industry is an ever changing landscape. During my youth if you’d asked me that question, I’d have answered that I wanted an easier means to record and release music.
Now I’ve seen that wish come to fruition, I realise that any change has advantages and drawbacks. It’s cause and effect.
Overall though, profiteering! It’s a blight not just on music, but on society as a whole. Everything is governed by the greed of others and this sickening will to hoard what they regard as valuable, and to garner success at the expense of others.
That and gatekeeping. I despise anyone who feels they must try and restrict anyone’s access or love of a particular artform. Who the fuck wakes up in the morning and thinks “My goal for today is to stop someone enjoying something that I enjoy”.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
Grant – As always, we’re taking our time in a zero pressure environment. Our output is organic, and we never approach things thinking we need to write X by Z. If life gets in the way we take the time.
Paul had new releases with DTS Overdrive and Dinenthal in the pipeline. Chuck those names into any streaming platform and you’ll find a plethora of musical genius.
Me and Jake are heavily involved in the Nerdy Up North podcast and their other mediums. We discuss and enjoy all fandoms that people get absorbed into.
Adams just got married, so his hands are getting put to better use on his Mrs at the moment.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
Stick the band name into any streaming platform and you’ll find us.
If anyone wants to support us directly we have merch worldwide on Amazon here :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?rh=n%3A83450031%2Cp_4%3ADwarrowdelf+Records+Official+Merchandise&ref=mh_bl_sl_s_ap_mw_83450031
And the music on Bandcamp here – https://dwarrowdelfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/post-death
Acherontia Styx links:
Band/Artist location – Northern England
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