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Accomplices: Andrea and Elaine

Photographs by Andrea of Headbanger Salon

Photo by Deanna Walachy of Dragoneyesphotagraphy.com

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James, you have had a different lineup on this tour. What happened to former members I was hunting last time?

James: Well, it has been a difficult time for Arsis over the past couple of months. Our original drummer, Mike Van Dyne, left the band to further his education.

He's a drummer. Everyone knows drummers aren't too bright. What kind of education is he trying to further?

James (Laughs) Mike already had a degree in drum performance. I think he is going after his degree in radiology.He is a great friend and I do miss him, but he felt he needed to move on and I felt that I needed to continue with Arsis.

What about Mr. Peter Steele?

James: (Laughs) Ah yes...the big and beefy bassist that you liked so much, who had toured with us for a while, was named Justin Shaw. Again, he is great guy, but we all felt that Noah Martin, who played bass on our last recording would be a better full-time member. Ryan Knight is also now a full-time member of Arsis.

Where did Noah come from?

James: We knew Noah through mutual friends in Atlanta and as it turns out he is from Va. Beach as well as the most of the rest of us. He is such a fun person to spend time with on the road and is an exceptional musician it would have been foolish to pass down the opportunity to work with him.

Noah: I actually got the gig by showing, invited, to the studio and improvising over one of the songs. A half-asleep James Malone said I sounded awesome and that he would love to have me on the Arsis album. I think he was up all night recording guitars when I showed up. I looked down and thought to myself, "Whose ugly pink and purple guitar is THIS?" Maris, you should get one.

YES!...You also are traveling with a bald, fill in vocalist. Why did you do that? Is Mr. Baldy permanent?

James: We are indeed. I lost my voice on a tour that we did back in Nov./Dec. and I do not feel that I fully recovered yet. The vocalist's name is Mike Parks and he has a fantastic voice. If it were solely my decision, he definitely would be permanent. It is not, however, so we'll have to see what happens.

Oh...and I almost forgot...Darren

James: Darren Cesca is Mike Van Dyne's replacement. I knew him from Berklee college of music. He also has played with such bands as Goratory and Burn in Silence.

If Darren and your former drummer, Mike, were to get into a fight, who would kick whose ass?

James: That's a good question. I'm not sure. Darren is a big guy, but I think Mike was some kind of Tai Kwan Dao champion. But then again, Darren might be trained in some martial art too. I don't know who would win.

It can be difficult to impress the Metal community. Has the positive, critical reactions to your music come as a surprise?

Noah: Well... Everyone usually thinks they deserve a little something, you know? While that's not exactly how I feel, if a band works hard enough, receiving positive feedback shouldn't be that unexpected. I suppose we're happy to get reactions at all. One night, I was walking around after playing a set, and I felt someone brush against me. I turned around and this kid is just touching my arm with this bizarre look on his face. I don't think he had an orgasm or anything. He goes, "I just wanted to touch you, man. You guys are just such an inspiration." I suppose in that sense it's a surprise.

Is everyone too smitten by Hardcore and Metalcore these days to care about Melodic Death Metal? Or is the fanbase of your style of music as large as it should be?

Noah: There's always room to grow. Who knew that Dragonforce would blow up as much as they recently have? Power metal is alive and well, surrounded by the Hardcore and Metalcore scenes. When I go out to melodic death shows, I see more kids every time. There was a pretty big crowd for Darkane, Amon Amarth, and countless other acts. It's catching on like pogs. I should know. I played pogs. Arsis is like pogs. There's always room to grow.

How has the reaction here in the states varied to that of Europe?

James: Not to sure

Noah: I know of quite a few UK and German fans, but for the most part I'll go with James' "I don't know."

Have you toured Europe yet?

James: We haven't played in Europe at this time.

Noah: I'm sure we'll get over there, finally getting on Nuclear Blast and all. I bet the Germans are anxious to set us loose over there.

If you had only one Arsis song to utilize as the perfect example of who Arsis would like to be thought of musically, which one would you choose...and why?

Noah: At the moment, I'd say "Promise of Never" or "Cold Resistance" would be my choice(s). They're both radically intense pieces of music. There are time and tempo changes, shredding, melodies, and involve three-part writing (three simultaneous musical lines). I personally think they're easier to digest than some of the other material, so for a first-time listener, I would suggest those tunes.

You (James) are also a violinist. How has all that training assisted you as a guitarist? And a writer?

James: I like to think that the more knowledge that one has about music theory and music in general, the more creative they can be and the ideas that they produce will be more cohesive. Also, once you have an understanding of the rules of music it is okay to break them.

Arsis is from Virginia. I've heard really positive things about the Metal scene there. Tell me more about it.

Noah: Virginia is cool. Metal is a little more prevalent in Richmond and Northern Virginia rather than Hampton Roads in southern Virginia. I mean, most of the bands that pop up, like any area, just get with the times. For a while, the music of choice for a good portion of Virginia bands was pop punk and ska. There have been plenty of bands that have been duking it out, playing great music like Darkest Hour, the guys in Immortal Avenger, etc. I heard somewhere that Randy from Lamb of God used to be a hippy. They should write another Testament rip-off song with lyrics about hackysack.

The song "A Diamond For Disease" from your EP is almost 15 minutes long. How long did it take you to write that? How does one go about composing a song of that length?

James: The song took almost four months to write. I mainly just came up with ideas, recorded them and listened back to them to make that I had placed them in the proper order and that everything flowed properly. It was all very time consuming.

Do you ever play it live?

James: We do play a portion of the song live, but we have yet to perform the entire song.

Noah: I'd love to do the whole thing eventually, and turn a few heads. On the contrary, I wouldn't want people to blow their brains out from boredom. I guess it'll be an experiment one of these days.

James: We do play a portion of the song live, but we have yet to perform the entire song.

Noah: I'd love to do the whole thing eventually, and turn a few heads. On the contrary, I wouldn't want people to blow their brains out from boredom. I guess it'll be an experiment one of these days.

Tell me about the new CD "United in Regret" What lessons did you learn from your previous albums, that you put to good use this time around?

James: Not to track everything myself. I had Noah play bass on the album.

I thought the original title Lust Before The Maggots Conquest was a much more superior title

James: My mom didn't think so. As a result I changed the title.

Oh...My...God...that is the most un-metal thing I have heard in my death!

James: (Laughs)..Well...the truth is I changed the title at the last minute. I had been drinking and was quite buzzed. The label needed the official title, so at the last moment and gave them United In Regret, but I have no idea why.

 


 

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