PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
L: Hi, Pete. Thank you for the interview. This is Lou, the guitarist. I would say Severed Angel is a band that pays homage to our musical heroes, but makes it a point to not sound like them. We all have different influences, whether it’s Helloween, Amorphis, Dream Theater, Soilwork, In Flames, or even Zombi. It’s important for us to make sure that our songs are melodic and catchy, but we have to like them first before we release them for public consumption. There are definite elements where you can hear Progressive, or Power, or Gothic, or even Thrash, but the best way to describe Severed Angel would be Melodic Metal.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
L: Sure. We all come from different backgrounds. Wayne (drums) was in Phoenix Reign and has another band called Project Resurrect. Both were influenced by Power Metal. Alex (vocals, guitar, production) is definitely based in Progressive Metal. His band Infinite Spectrum opened for the Fates Warning tour a couple of years ago. Check out his other band Tension Rising as well. George (bass) is also in Timeless Haunt, who’ve opened up for bands like The 3 Tremors. Marc (keyboards) has a band called The Nightmare Stage where you can hear some of his orchestrations in the context of traditional metal. In my opinion, everyone’s great at what they do with their contributions. I come from a background of Hardcore and Metal bands, but I never felt like I had a voice in those situations. My influences were Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, and Michael Schenker, but I was told to write and contribute music that didn’t suit me well. I didn’t care to be aligned with bands on labels like Victory, Drive Thru, or Vagrant Records. Although I enjoyed opening for bands like SkyCameFalling, Inhuman, and The Sleeping, and I liked the camaraderie I had with the bands I was in, I definitely was unsure if the music I was writing really spoke to me. It wasn’t until Severed Angel where I felt like I had no limitations and could write with a clean slate and not have to worry about pleasing anyone.
Wayne pretty much introduced me to everyone through his podcast Rat Salad Review, where I am a co-host and do my own podcast called “Music Is Life Podcast.” Wayne knew Marc through mutual acquaintances, had George on his show promoting Timeless Haunt, and had Alex promoting his music as well as Alex’s work as an engineer since he mixed the Project Resurrect album “False Reality.” We all struck up friendships by working on cover songs for Rat Salad Review. You can watch them on our YouTube channel, or you can listen to the EP called “Rat Salad Review & Friends – Cover Series EP, Pt. 1.”
One day, Wayne asked me if I wanted to write original music. At the time, I was hesitant having just left a bad cover band situation and dealing with some personal issues. Wayne, being persistent, always made the recording experience fun, so I gave in finally; lol. I gave him a riff I wrote about 12 years ago called “Dogs of War.” It was originally written as entrance music for my wife’s cousin Robby Plotkin, who was an MMA fighter. He’s currently a US Army Ranger. Anyway, Wayne loved the riff, showed it to George, Alex, and Marc, and it just snowballed from there. Severed Angel was born. “Dogs of War” will be available on the upcoming debut full length.
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?
L: Good question. As I mentioned, we all have a lot of different influences musically, but we all have to like what we’re hearing before we add to it. Usually it starts with the riff, and I don’t care what anyone says – riffs make the songs what they are. Ask Tony Iommi, Zakk Wylde, or Ritchie Blackmore – the riffs drive the song from points A-Z. Listeners like a hook they can hold on to, and it does work in Metal, too. Once the riff is recorded, everyone contributes their parts. Everyone’s energy is fed off of how good the riff is. Good riffs make good songs, and in turn make good performances. As far as what we like to write about, it changes with each song. Some songs come from a personal place; others come from ideas or concepts. We ensure never to get political or religious in our songs because we know that no one likes to be lectured to. Sometimes, lyrics come with the riff, or they do take time to formulate. Alex has a great way of making the songs ambiguous enough for the listener to come up with their own conclusion. Other times, they are direct, but there hasn’t been a situation yet where we thought the lyrics would be a red flag. The topics can be anything from self-empowerment and redemption, or even topics like numerology or horror films (such as “Bump In The Night”).
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
L: It would be nice to capitalize from this financially, and it would be just as great to perform. Logistics have to make sense for us to do that, but in the meantime, we are meeting our aspirations as artists – we’re having fun creating music we want to listen to. If you’re not having fun, then why do it? We enjoy each other’s company as friends, and we all respect what we’re doing as musicians together. It’d be worse to be millionaires from this and us hating each other, which is what we don’t want. We’re having fun with the songwriting and recording process, so we’re going to continue on this path.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
L: Well, I’m sure we all have different achievements outside of Severed Angel that we’re proud of. Wayne opened for Epica at the Gramercy Theater in New York City while being a member of Phoenix Reign, Alex had the Fates Warning tour with Infinite Spectrum…there is a lot, and Severed Angel has only been together since Spring of 2022. I’d have to say for all of us, we felt proud of writing, recording, mixing, mastering, and completing our full length album in 3 months. That’s a pretty good accomplishment, I must say. It will be released in Spring of 2023.
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?
L: We’re getting a lot of engagement with internet metal specialty shows like Zombie Ritual Radio on 97 Underground. There are other on-air personalities like Malice Cooper (not Alice), Marc Alden Taylor on That Metal Station, and Ralph Viera of the Rock and Metal Combat Podcast and the Almost Human YouTube page that have been instrumental in promoting us. Social media has definitely been working in our favor. We have our YouTube, our Instagram, our TikTok and our Facebook. It’s been working out for us just fine. It’s helped out with efficiency for us because we can just concentrate on writing and recording new music, and promote it once we’re done. We seem to be getting new listeners with every promotion we do, so I can’t complain.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
L: Once the full length comes out, we will discuss the logistics of having a record-release event. It’d be great to just go out and play gigs, but in today’s climate, there are a lack of venues. We’re less concerned with that at the moment, and more concerned with writing and releasing good material. Come time for the record release, we’ll have a greater well of material to pull from to perform live.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
L: It’s not a secret that you directly support the band when you purchase a full-length from them, whether it’s at a show or on their Bandcamp. I personally love to own physical media, so I make sure to buy merch from a band to help them keep going. I also know that career bands can’t survive on streams alone unless they’re played 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. My best advice to music fans is this – you have a Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon account regardless of whether you purchase CDs or records, so here’s the best of both worlds: buy a copy of the band’s CD, and don’t even worry about opening it up. You have it, but you can also listen to it on streaming audio. Streaming services will pay the artist for the amount of times you listen to their song, but you just gave them more incentive to keep going by buying a CD. This is important because your vote for a band is whatever you pay out of your wallet. If you like the band, show them support by buying a t-shirt and a CD. Don’t illegally download it, and don’t give them a reason to quit if you like them. Music is meant to be enjoyed by all, regardless of cultural, political, or spiritual differences, but please give some incentive to the creators to keep going. Otherwise, don’t be upset if they never write or release anything again.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
L: Haha! Wow…how much time do you have? Well…my 3 favorite songs of all time are Rainbow’s “Stargazer,” Rush’s “Xanadu,” and Deep Purple’s “Burn.” So I definitely wish I wrote those. I think they’re all genius songs backed up by great musicians on record. Obviously, Ritchie Blackmore is on 2 of those songs, so I definitely respect him as a songwriter as well as a guitarist. It’s very rare where I can hear a song the first time and hit “repeat” for 2-3 weeks straight and consume nothing but those songs, but I can honestly say that this is how I felt when I heard those 3 songs the first time. They’re epic songs, and you just never want them to end. That to me is what makes a great song. Now there’s a definite magic in writing those kinds of songs in 5 minutes or less, and I think that’s something to strive for.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
L: I think people should be less concerned about being “rock stars” and more concerned with being good at their craft, whether it’s singing, playing an instrument, or writing a song. I disagree wholeheartedly with Gene Simmons (whom I respect) when he said “rock is dead.” In my view, rock is far from dead. Not when you have bands like Polyphia and Animals as Leaders who are pushing kids to pick up a guitar and be better than most guitarists from my generation. Not when you have great talent like Left of the Slash or The Poynt who make great rock music with melody and heart. Not when you have young singers like Alyxx, or artists like Lisa Mann and her bands White Crone and Splintered Throne, Damiano Christian and Sacred Oath, or Dusty Gannon and Vision Video who take what we love about music and bring it up to 1000. There is young talent everywhere; listeners just need to look past the record label/radio system. There are many great unsigned talents out there. Not everything you hear on the radio is good, and not everything that isn’t played on the radio is bad. I personally love Darkwave and Retro Synth. If it wasn’t for bands like The Birthday Massacre, I would have never discovered bands like Miami Nights 1984, Lazerhawk, or Fury Weekend. None of these artists get airplay, but I still listen to them. It’s nothing I would necessarily change because it doesn’t affect me either way, but I would tell music fans to think outside of the mainstream Top 40 radio stations to find music to entertain them. Don’t be surprised that we’re living in a time that Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush predicted – where you can directly support the unsigned artist. Thanks to sites like Bandcamp, the time is now, so take advantage of it.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
L: We are working on new songs, and we are working on our first animated music video directed by Mandeer of Frostbite BC. The song is for a single we just finished called “Tyrant On The Throne,” and it’s another exclusive non-album track. Other than that, we are planning our record release to see if there are any distributors out there that are interested in picking it up. Right now we are getting ready for the holidays, so there’s a little downtime to be had by us, but I’m always writing riffs. We’ll see. We may have a new album finished by next fall too; haha. As long as the creativity keeps flowing, we’ll keep going.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
L: You can find all of our sites over at https://linktr.ee/severedangel. We have our merch and all of our social media links there. Thanks again for this opportunity to talk, and thank you for your support of Severed Angel. Cheers!
Severed Angel links:
Band/Artist location – Northeast, USA
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