Friday, October 19, 2012

Maelstrom Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
First off , thank you & everyone at Variety of Death Zine for the interview. MaelstroM is currently wrapping up the pre-production of our debut album. The last minute drum edits are now being finished and all guitar, bass and keyboard lines have been demoed. Gary is busy tweaking the final lyrical and vocal ideas … everything is coming together really smoothly … this stuff writes itself.

2. How would you describe the musical sound of the newer music and how it differs from previous recordings?

The material we're recording is actually music that was written between 1989 and 1992 … literally 20 years ago. It's part of the same concept as was our It Was Predestined EP. Those 3 songs were three chapters of the conceptual story that this debut album finishes… we're essentially completing the rest of the chapters now.

Of course these songs have been tweaked since their first incarnation 20 years ago, If someone goes on YouTube and checks out our first demos … the melodic and structural ideas were there … but we're executed like a bunch of 17 year olds on an analog tape. The musical and vocal maturity is going to be so evident when people check out these recording, especially when coupled with Fortin Amplification and Tue Madsen engineering.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?

Lyrically, Gary definitely writes fantasy driven material. He and I were both heavily into Dungeons and Dragons and Tolkien as kids. One thing I particularly like in Gary's writing is the huge amount of imagery it conveys. People have told me they actually feel like they're on a battlefield when listening to our stuff … and thats through a coupling of Gary's incredible imagination with my absolute obsession with epic film score composer James Horner. Thats how we try to approach this stuff. We definitely want to "Feel" something when listening to our stuff … and if others get it … great.

4. There was a demo released in 1991, and then there was not another one until 17 years later, what was going on during that hiatus?

After we released our second, now classic, demo "This Battle To Make History, Yet History Never Comes" in 1991 we continued writing, actually some of what I think is our BEST material was written then … but that will have to wait for the 2nd album :)

And then life simply kicked in, some members went off to college, some had to work full time to pay bills, couple that with the fact that we didn't wear flannels and sing like we had marbles in our mouth,
and it culminated in that classic metal band break up. No hard feeling at all, still great friends with each of the original members, but life just took over.

We also had a new drummer enter the MaelstroM fold at the time in the form of Elliot Hoffman. If you've never heard that name, you definitely will. He's the now in CarBomb and will be on the cover of an upcoming issue of Sick Drummer Magazine. Simply incredible phenomenon behind the kit. Elliot came in and definitely pushed our music into a more syncopated and "jazz odyssey" direction which eventually lead to, I guess what we can call, the official end of MaelstroM as we knew it. I knew it, Gary knew it. So it was best to call it a day then, while we still had nothing but pleasant memories of MaelstroM.

After that I played guitar in a variety of bands like the Frank Zappa inspired "Spooge", and cover bands that played classic Rainbow, Purple, Sabbath, Hendrix, and Zep stuff. In that 17 year interim I also became a Chiropractor, an Acupuncturist and now an MD … so been keeping myself a little busy. :) Gary in that time frame became one of the top creative designers at a major graphic arts/advertising company in the city - that imagination still hard at work.

But he and I both viewed MaelstroM not only with a sense of nostalgia but also honestly as, unfinished business … because we knew we had some great stuff that we REALLY wanted to hear again, especially now with todays production capabilities. And that's a recurring theme that you'll probably hear from Gary and I all the time … it's stuff that we want to hear. We both have successful careers going, so this obviously isn't for the money. We wanted to recreate
MaelstroM in the form of the band that we always wanted to hear, what we both thought it should have been in the first place.

And then a gentleman named Roman at FORGOTTEN STEEL wrote THE review of our 2nd demo that inspired Gary and I to start this all over again. You could check it out here if you'd like:

5. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?

We were first called "Insurrection" for our first few shows in '88, then either there was another band named that or we were getting too many "Erection" jokes at school, so we decided to come up with another name. I think we all wrote down like 5 names, and Gary's folks and our bass player, Jon Modell's father came up with "MaelstroM" .. it was the only name to appear twice on our lists so we went with that. I came up with some ridiculous names, like "Burning Cauldron" or "Flaming Sword" or something … which is why Gary writes the lyrics.

6. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?

We'll the last showed MaelstroM played was back in 92' … I've obviously played out a ton after that with different bands, but my hands down Favorite show with Gary was April 8, 1989 at Hammer Hedz in Elmont, NY. The line up was Demolition Hammer, Cold Steel, and MaelstroM. Hammer Hedz was a small club that was well known on LI, Dream Theatre used to play there when they were Majesty, it was a small but great place with a legal occupancy limit of like 130 people.

On that Sunday, April 8th show over 450 people showed up, peoplewere literally stacked on top of each other, the place was packed to the hilt and each band sounded great that night. That was one of the shows that set MaelstroM on its way as being one of the top drawers in the Long Island Metal Scene. We actually were named the top drawing act for both 89' and 90' at that club, winning a contest there, which helped pay for our 2nd demo.

Another great show I remember was with Suffocation at Long Islands's Sundance in Bay Shore probably in 1990. It was Suffo's very first show!!!!, and we were all really great friends back then. Still in touch with some of the guys, awesome to see how far they've come in the extreme metal scene, which they helped create.

7. Do you have any touring plans for the future?

Right now all time and efforts are focused on finishing the debut album … its now been over 20 years in the making and it won't wait any longer. After that is unleashed, we're definitely considering doing some shows if the timing and opportunity is right.

8. Recently Itchy Metal Entertain ment re-issued your 2008 demo, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe
the support that they have given you so far?

That was all Gary. He was following Itchy Metal and their founder Ed Fassio for a while before he reached out to them. They had a very different take on the scene as far as promotion goes, especially with the advent of social media sites being a part of our everyday lives. Ed's a great guy with a great vision, is behind us 110%, and we're more than happy to have him in our corner. Ed at Itchy and Scott at Clawhammer PR are really putting their everything behind us!! It's great!

9. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your newer music by fans of extreme metal?

MaelstroM's stuff is getting embraced beyond wildest hopes right now. We're getting killer reviews, great gig opportunities, plays on some great Metal radio and internet stations, and our FaceBook page is nearing 40,000 fans as of this writing. It's really amazing.

I think what draws people to the band, besides our music, is the story behind the band. That we were just a couple of kids from Long Island who had a dream of being in a killer metal band, emulating our heroes, just like all kids do … but then life and responsibilities took over and now 20 years later … those kids have reformed to complete their dream and are here to deliver a great musical statement. Someone should make this into a movie. :)
10. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

More melodic, more cinematic, and more beautiful and more brutal.

11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

James Horner, the composer, is a major influence on me. His "Wrath Of Khan" soundtrack is absolute required listening as far as I'm concerned. Classical music, particularly Bach, is always so great to list to. I've also been a huge fan of Coltrane ... Giant Steps is such an incredible album.

Guitar wise I've really gotten heavy into Holdsworth, Carl Verheyen, Tommy Emmanuel, Scotty Anderson… and I always bust out my classic Randy Rhoads, Yngwie, Jason Becker and Paul Gilbert CD's.

A beyond Classic band that I keep rediscovering is Rainbow. What more can you say? Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio, nuff said! Incredible. Stargazer = required listening.

As far as newer bands, I really like BTBAM, Winds, and Gojira … I got to hang out with Joe-jira at their recent show with CarBomb at Webster Hall, NY. Great band, great guys. Very catchy.
12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?

Medicine is obviously a big part of my life, being a doctor. Keeping up to date with all the brilliant strides made in modern medicine today, its really amazing stuff. I also couple that with one foot firmly planted in traditional Chinese and herbal medicine … in a way I guess its the same way I approach music. It's amazing to get all these incredible modern guitar techniques under your fingers like sweeping and multi-finger tapping and stuff, but if you can't really grasp a Robert Johnson blues … your not a complete player.

13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

Thanks so much again for the opportunity and for helping MaelstroM reach a wider audience. You guys rule!! And everyone, get yourself ready for the debut MaelstroM album to hit … 20 years in the making!!! It's going to be a metal classic!!!!!!!

Joey Lodes

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