First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about yourselves to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?
I am John Kevill, 30 years old, and I do vocals for this band I started long ago called Warbringer. I live in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. We aim to make ripping and lethal thrash metal with fire, passion and creativity.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant industrial community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
I like it well enough here though I want to get out of the city and move to somewhere a little more rural, but still in California.
Yes, Los Angeles is a huge city and has a vibrant “every kind of community” practically. I am kind of a hermit though, so no, I don’t take a ton of influence from the local scene, even though we do have many musicians within it that are our friends and whom we like their music.
What do you feel separates your music from the rest of the music in the Metal music scene?
I feel that we have a different structural approach to songwriting, and a much more natural and organic sound to our instruments as well, because we don’t use any fake stuff. Also, we bring a degree of speed and aggression rarely heard since the older days of the genre, but with a fresh approach and meticulously made songs.
What does Warbringer mean to you guys in 2017? And how does that compare to what the project meant to you guys when it was formed?
Right now it’s the culmination of my entire life’s musical journey. But when it was formed it was my first band and was deeply personal then too. I guess just seeing it evolve, improve, and develop into the force it is today gives me a sense of pride in our work that I did not/could not have at the beginning.
You guys have mentioned you have something new in the works. What's the progress on your next release, and how do you feel this next release is going to evolve the sound of the band? How was the production of the album like compared to previous albums? Who was the producer you worked with, and how did you feel he helped contribute to the overall sound of the album
“Woe to the Vanquished” is both the heaviest and most advanced album we have done. The production process, we had more time in this case, and wrote and recorded basically the entire record ourselves before we entered the studio with it.
Mike Plotnikoff produced this album and did an amazing job -- very clear, punchy, but all done with actual instrumental takes and no fake drums. His attitude and calm also contributed a lot to our success in the high-pressure environment of recording a record. Great producer.
You have released quite a few releases over you're active musical years. What has been your favorite album you have put out so far, and how do you feel your music has evolved over the years?
This one! I think it represents all the previous albums at their best, but also goes into some new, uncharted territory for us that is really exciting. I’ve improved a lot personally as a vocalist and writer and the band has never been tighter.
Interview continues past the music video!
What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes?
I love writing about history because it is a source of real world tragedy and can provide so many different settings. The kind of music we make is angry and aggressive, and so I look for themes which fit. On this record we have themes of history, warfare, and a theme of real-life-human evil, because I think that is the strongest possible source material for such aggressive music.
Would you consider yourself to be an overall political or spiritual individual? If so, if how what would you say are your strongest/most important views and/or causes?
I have political views but I wouldn’t say I “am” political. I’m more interested in the past than the present a lot of the time as it can be seen more clearly in many cases, and I find the present very disheartening in many ways.
I am definitely an atheist and I reason (not believe, reason) that most of the things that most people think are in fact false, but believe in some greater significance to life still, just by virtue of the fact that I am a part of the greater vastness of the cosmos.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?
Well, I never had any background in music before Warbringer. In the few years leading up to the formation of the band, I learned much of what I now know about heavy metal in all its various forms, which was new to me then, and from the great excitement of this discovery I started Warbringer and went to learning how to play music.
Since then it’s been over a decade and through all kinds of different circumstances, Warbringer keeps soldiering on.
Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?
We had a lot of downtime between the last album and this one, most of which was spent with me trying to re-forge the band after a cataclysm. Once that was done, about February 2016, we set to work on “Woe to The Vanquished”, which already had a bit of preliminary ideas done. It took us about 8 months for the writing and two for the recording. Then there was a long period of relative downtime as the setup for record release begins, and in the last month or so everything’s roared back to life with press, shows and song releases, it’s been very exciting and has taken the majority of my time.
When it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?
I’m definitely energy and audience-driven, as we focus on basically striking with the force of a hurricane live. We try to keep the performance tight, fast, and intense. That being said I am a pretty theatric guy by nature, and I don’t see the two to be opposite. We’ve added more thematic visual stuff to the stage presentation for the upcoming record cycle but we aren’t planning on dialing down the energy anytime soon.
When it comes to performing, what are your favorite sort of venues to play in, and what are your favorite areas to tour? If you could tour with any other band in the world who would it be and why? What are some of your favorite memories of touring?
My favorite sorts of venues are those with good sound and filled with people, haha. I don’t care much about the place so much as the energy and the feeling. I’m playing music for people, not places!
I love touring in Europe though because it is typically nicest in terms of touring logistics (food, travel, housing, comfort), which makes a huge difference when the road is your whole life for a month or over at a time, and I also know a fair deal about the history that interests me.
Well if I could tour with any band ever, I’d choose the ‘86 incarnation of Slayer or maybe ‘80-81 Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden/Judas Priest are of course top choices as well. There are many.
If you could play any anywhere, with anyone, in the world, dead or alive, who and where would it be?
Isn’t that rather similar to the previous question?
What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?
Well yes, the beginnings of classic heavy metal and many hard rock classics as well. When I was younger and first discovering this music, it was like a lightning rod for me. Sabbath, Zeppelin, Priest, Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Kreator, Bathory, this is some of my standard list that I’ve been listening my whole career, but there is so much else, metal and otherwise, which collectively forms my inspiration
How would you describe the composition of a typical track within your musical group? Do you have primary songwriters, or do you each take time writing individual tracks and bring them to the rest of the group to flesh out, or do you jam tracks out in a live sort of setting?
It varies by song. Some, like “Silhouettes” or “When the Guns Fell Silent” started with a lyric or title from me, maybe a structural idea, and then music formed around it. Others, like “Shellfire” or “Divinity of Flesh”, Adam or Carlos would have the better part of a whole song written out musically and it was my challenge to create fitting lyrics for it. Others followed a blend of these approaches.
Interview continues past the music video!
When you write music there is a lot of trial and error. Would you consider yourself a person who goes into production with a defined sound in mind, and you work at it until you achieve the closest to the results in your head? Or would you consider yourself more of a person who feels and grooves music, letting songs progressively evolve and define themselves throughout the creation?
Definitely the first one. I am a vocalist but do not play an instrument (though I know some things of theory).
Who have been some of your biggest influences when it comes to growling and harsh vocals? Do you have any techniques you use to help keep yourself from burning out your throat on the tour?
For vocals some of my influences are Tom Araya, Mille Petrozza, Steve Reynolds (Demolition Hammer), Rob Urbanati (Sacrifice), Quorthon, Rob Halford.
I try to sing as close to proper singing technique as I can but due to the harsh nature of it, I just hurt sometimes. Basically my main technique is “Be Tough”, and my endurance has grown a lot through the years.
Outside of Metal, what other genres could you see yourself composing music in? Or should I say, do you see yourself inspired by?
For me to make music in, I’d say Rock or some kind of ancient Folk. Those would probably be the best suited to me and my mindset, but since I’ve spent so many years developing this harsh vocal style that I think is pretty recognizable as my own, I will probably just stay a metal musician.
What sort of new bands have come out in recent years that have caught your attention? Is there any bands out there you see yourself, or would like to, remix or collaborate with in the future?
A lot of the other new bands are putting out great music. I have to put out special mention to Vektor, Exmortus, Power Trip, and Havok for putting out in my opinion top-quality metal music and performance in recent times.
“Remix” is a word you’ll never hear us use, haha.
Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?
I love travel, reading, learning about interesting stuff, strategy PC games, and any kind of intellectual conversation usually. I have an overactive mind and sometimes it just sort of takes me on a ride for a while. I have a wonderful fiancé whom I live with in the San Fernando valley with our fat and lazy cats.
How bout giving one strange or interesting insight about each member of the band to our audience?
Adam Carroll was at a Buddy Guy show when he was maybe 5 years old, was brought on stage, and Buddy Guy used his hand as a guitar pick.
Carlos Cruz plays Drums, Guitar, Bass, Keys, and produces. All of this stuff played into this last album. Really talented musician
Chase Becker I have known for about 10 years, and he’s always been a total shredder. One of the most solid dudes ever. Last name- no relation.
Jessie Sanchez is a real comedian and one of the most happy-go-lucky people you will ever meet. He plays in several bands and just loves people, I think.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
Thanks for checking us out, and remember to keep the riffage going and play it loud!
Over and out
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