Τετάρτη 12 Νοεμβρίου 2014

WALPYRGUS, a new Heavy Metal sensation - Interview with Scott Waldrop

WALPYRGUS is a new metal band from United States with some very well-known underground metal musicians from bands like TWISTED TOWER DIRE, WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, OCTOBER 31 etc. Having their first EP just released by No Remorse Records, I had the chance to talk with my good friend and guitarist Scott Waldrop about everything around the band. Enjoy!

-How did Walpyrgus created their cult?

Scott: I wanted a band in Raleigh to write and play live with, as my other band Twisted Tower Dire isn't fully functional. Marc and Dave (TTD), live somewhat far away from me and I needed to do something more consistent because I was going crazy with boredom. One day at the beach 3 years ago, I was drinking beer and smoking cigarettes by myself watching the sunset over the ocean. I was feeling sorry for myself that I couldn't get all music ideas out and generally pouting. I decided right then and there, that I was going to call people from Raleigh and get a band going instead of sit there like a helpless turd for a moment longer. I needed a great guitarist so I called Charley Shackelford. I knew him since 1999 when Twisted Tower Dire used to play shows with his then-band Iskariot. In recent years he had a band In Raleigh called Hellrazor and I really liked his guitar work in that. Anyway, I told him I wanted to do an all-original band and described it as The Misfits meets Iron Maiden/Black Sabbath and he was in. Next I called Peter Lemieux. He's filled in on drums for TTD before and was in a Raleigh band with our singer Jonny Aune called Viper. He grew up with Jonny and they do great vocal harmonies together. He's an amazing drummer and was my first (and only) choice for the band. I then called Jim and Jonny and told them what I wanted to do and they were both totally into it. So there it is. Walpyrgus was literally conceptualized and formed in a about 1 hour while I was drunk on the beach. We got together the following week, started playing cover tunes, writing originals, and have been enjoying playing together ever since.

-Having Walpyrgus active, does this mean that Twisted Tower Dire is on hold, since 3 of the present Walpyrgus members were playing in the last TTD album, "Make It Dark"?

Scott: Yea pretty much. TTD may have gotten another album out by now but who knows. Things move very slowly in that camp. It was a good time to take a break. I don't think "Make it Dark" did as well as we or Cruz Del Sur expected and it certainly wasn't our "come back" album. Some anonymous reviewer from Terrorizer Magazine went as far as to say there was "no reason for us to exist". That hurt pretty bad seeing as how it was a major publication that championed us in the past. I'm sure whoever wrote that nothing of it and that they were writing something insightful and clever about the scene but we pour our hearts and soul into TTD - don't get paid - and it fucked us in the head. With Dave joining Volture also, I think it was really time to let TTD rest for a while. We may not have admitted it at the time but we were all pretty disheartened at the time. We weren't getting any younger and no new opportunities were knocking on the door. I was afraid we were becoming those guys who had stayed at the party too long and TTD deserves to be remembered with dignity especially looking back on our work with our late singer Tony Taylor. If there is a TTD album it's going to be very well thought out and special album. I'm not going to do it just to do it. I'm honestly not really sure that anyone who is or was a fan of TTD will really accept the band without Tony singing. Jonny is amazing but Tony was so different sounding and such a big part of TTD's "brand". It's a weird problem. I want to keep making music but I have no fucking idea what other people want to hear.

-For me, Walpyrgus is something like a logical step after "Make It Dark", so which are your influences and the things that inspire you today?

Scott: Yea that's exactly what it is. Some Walpyrgus songs were going to be TTD songs. Somewhere around '05 I started writing my songs on acoustic guitar with open chords like a folk song, then I word turn the chord progressions into metal riffs. I started becoming really interested in traditional song writers completely outside of metal. Some of my favorites are people like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Simon & Garfunkle etc. I would have never admitted that a few years ago but I'm old and don't really give a shit. I also cry watching children's movies and still listen to death metal (but not new death metal, only early 90's stuff).

-Having your first release out now from No Remorse Records (and previously on tape by Swords and Chains) what's the background of these songs and do you have more songs and recordings ready?

Scott: "We Are The Wolves" was going to be a TTD song. That's why it sounds like TTD. The lyrics are about ancient inhuman beings who watch civilizations come and go. It was originally called "We are the Ones" but my wife misunderstood my demo vocals and I heard her sing "we are the wolves, we are the wolves" around the house and I was like, "That's it! That's way cooler!". "Cold Cold Ground" is about this recurring nightmare I have that I’ve killed someone as a teenager on LSD. Just for the record, I have never killed anyone while on drugs but I have nightmares about it. I started plinking around on the acoustic guitar with that "rock & roll" intro riff and it all just spilled out one evening. I think it has its own unique vibe because it's in an unusual key for metal: G minor but we're drop tuned to e flat so it's played in the position of A flat. So...if you're a guitar nerd you understand that's a fun position to play in. "The Sisters" was stolen from Joe Walsh and The Scorpions but I won't say which songs. Listen to them all and see if you win the quiz. The lyrics are about supernatural twins. I don't know where the chorus came from. It popped into my weird brain one day while I was driving. I had to scribble lyrics on a napkin as fast as I could without killing myself. As for new songs yes we have a whole album’s worth most of which we are currently demo-ing. We plan sending the demos to labels around December or January and seeing who is interested and what our options are. No Remorse Records will get it first :)

-I see the band is very active regarding live shows in your area. What's the feedback you receive from people?

Scott: It’s been good! We’ve got one guy that comes to every show so that keeps us going. If we didn’t play in Raleigh clubs we’d just be in Peter’s basement jealously guarding our own music like a dog playing with a cat turd. We play out locally a lot for two reasons really. The first is because on live show is worth ten practices. It makes you tighter as a band and it gives you the chance to see what works and what doesn’t with your songs. We wanted to have a lot of live experience together before recording an album because we think the experience will come shinning through in the recording. Of course the other reason being that if we ever get offered to do any higher profile gigs outside our area we’ll be ready.

-You started your journey in the underground metal scene of the 90s. Which are the differences for a new band to achieve its goal in the 90s and now?

Scott: I don’t really know what I was expecting back when I was a kid in the 90’s other than I felt compelled to do it and wanted to be part of things going on around me. I grew up in Washington DC where there was a really active death metal scene centering around King Fowley/Deceased and there was the whole Maryland doom thing centering around Pentagram and the Hellhound bands. I think from this area stemmed the “do it yourself” attitude you got from the famous punk and hardcore scene there. I grew up seeing all these hand drawn Xeroxed flyers and just being part of all this stuff and playing the 9:30 club seemed cool to me. Then, I went to Europe in 1990 and went to some underground metal record stores and picked up some zines and shit there. I learned about the European & black metal scene, started trading tapes and always just kind of enjoyed participating in the scene. I never looked at LA Metal bands in the 80’s and thought that could be me. I had “Shout at The Devil” posters on my wall in ‘84 but I was never set on being “commercial” with my music. Maybe if would have lived over there as a kid it would have been different because I did indeed travel to California a lot in the early 80’s as a kid and was very enamored with the music situation over there. But I’m a product of 80’s/90’s DC completely. Having grown up in that environment I’m content in my advanced years of 38, to just enjoy doing shit and by shit I mean anything centering around the music I love and not getting paid to play Kid Rock covers in a North Carolina sports bar. I’m a pretty happy guy. I have a beautiful wife and an amazing son, a nice place to live, a good job, great friends, and people always seemed to think my music was decent so I’m in a pretty calm place in life. Basically, to answer your question, nothing has really changed over the years for me. I do know however that I don’t like touring and don’t want to. Not sleeping well, eating crap food, not seeing my family or dogs, no place to exercise, being made fun of for excursing, being encouraged to drink and do drugs all the time, being stuck in a van and going insane to the point where the only other humans you can relate to are you band mates....I’m over it. I’m to old and I get grumpy. I still love doing though for like (maybe) 72 hours at a time. 

-What does "underground metal" stands for you?

Scott: For me it’s not being afraid to be personal about things and not being concerned about being a “super group”. I mean, it’s okay to let people know you’re a human being. Don’t be worried about conveying your promo kit to make yourself appear like the next Ratt. Those days are over. I think bands should work hard, practice a lot, put a lot of thought into their music, lyrics, artwork and everything. Have an artistic vision and don’t worry about finding a people to fit in with. Being underground is only cool when your one of those bands were people are like “damn! they should be bigger!“. Being underground and having people be like, “damn! those motherfuckers don’t know WHAT the fuck they’re doing!“ is not what you’re aiming for. Pretty much everything is “underground” now anyway. The internet has provided everyone with a giant unending playground. It’s a blessing. You can put shit out and if people like it, it will stick. It’s not like you have to trade tapes anymore and spend a million dollars on postage or tour for 3 years straight. Just put your shit out. You don’t really need the labels to bank roll shit for you anymore other than finding a way to make yourself sound good on a recording.

-Which are your most memorable moments as a musician all these years?

Scott: Tripping on absinth with Twisted Tower Dire in Germany and playing “House of the Rising Son” on stage in a whorehouse while we all wore sombreros.... and then I got in a fight with a Russian guy...Also recording with Piet Sielk and working with Derek Riggs were highlights for me. The most memorable and worst was when I ditched TTD in Wacken 2000. I got sick and I left in the middle of the night, found a cab, got to the airport and went home. Just totally freaked out. It's turned into one of those life-changing moments where you realize you're so disgusted with yourself you'll never be that weak again or let another human(s) down like that again. Also, getting briefly getting endorsed by BC Rich and having them build me the turquoise Rich Bich was a big dream come true. Still before all this really began, I met Marty the bass player from Pentagram at the time around 1993 at a house party in Annandale Virginia. He was very very drunk and could barely talk but he was a dad I remember and I was 17 at the time. He got all serious and looked at me and said, “Boy, if you’re serious about this whole goddamn music thing, and if you stick with it, you’re going to meet the weirdest goddamn motherfuckers that ever walked the face of this earth.” That was one of the most true and prophetic statements anyone has ever professed to me.

-Who are the best musicians you've met (and worked or play with, also) all these years and why?

Scott: I’ve played with a lot of great players but I’m way more impressed by creative minds. Tom from While Heaven Wept would be one. I remember even back in ‘91 he was way ahead of the curb. I was trying figure how to rip-off Asphyx  & Entombed at the time and he was already writing these amazing sophisticated songs with vocal melodies and very personal lyrics. My voice hadn’t even fully developed (I mean from a puberty standpoint) and he was already writing shit that was beyond my comprehension. I knew he was going to “be someone” in music very early on. King from Deceased would be another. I grew up worshipping them as a teenager in DC and got to play with him in October 31 for a little while. He’s got this crazy creative energy that’s one in a million. Always thinking of cool ideas. He must have a catalog of unused genius song titles and song ideas up in some massive dusty file cabinet in his brain that will never get used because there‘s not enough hours in the day to get them on paper. Some of the best creative energy I’ve had would have been with Jim Murad (the first TTD bass player). I really learned how write and understand music with him. He was/is a piano player and took music theory in college while we were starting TTD, and I was picking up on all the stuff he was learning as we applied it to TTD songs. If we’re going on pure musicianship, Piet Sielck really impressed me by watching how well and fluidly he played guitar and showed me how to harmonize and track myself in the studio.

-There is a very interesting project from DMR Books on the works, can you give us more details?

Scott: Yea, they’re putting together a group of fantasy stories written by heavy metal lyricists. Why I was picked, I have no idea. I’m more of a Lovecraft/Poe person so my story is in that style. I’ve been reading pieces of the other writers stories and I’m incredibly impressed. To be honest, when I was asked to do this project I thought the whole thing might be a disaster but it seems like it’s actually really going to be a well written and generally awesome collection. I’m looking forward to it coming out. Not sure how much more writing I can do. That story put me in a mentally unhealthy place but I got through it. A lot of it is very personal and based on real events in my life. It’s weird to put words to paper in such a way because when you read it back you realize what a fucking freak you are. Also, in that story, because of what it was written for, I put a bunch of obvious references into it from my lyrical influences like Chalmers, Poe, and Lovecraft. There’s also references to Black Sabbath lyrics in it here and there. If you’re a metal nerd like we all are you’ll be able to pick them out.

-What the future holds for Walpyrgus? ...or what would you like to be?

Scott: I just want us to get these other songs we’ve worked so hard on recorded well. Just put out more cool stuff like the deluxe EP on No Remorse Records... I’d love to be able to get us on a label that can get us in the door a little further than I could myself but I don’t have unrealistic expectations. It’s hard to get on a larger label based on you’re artistic merits and not be willing to tour. I’d actually be fine with writing the music and having someone fill in for me if it ever came to that. All in all the goal for Walpyrgus is to ideally put out the absolute best sounding album we possibly can and hopefully have people like it and be able to do some more of these fest like Ragnarokker that we’re doing in May. I’d love to return to Europe again with my music but I’m passed the days of paying for myself to get there so that future looks...hazy at best. Right now we’re just preparing to record the album this winter no matter what happens. We’ll record it on our own dollar which is realistically the most likely scenario. I actually have my Mom doing the cover art. She’s an amazing painter/pencil artist and I though it would be cool to do something that personal. She’s actually fully capable of painting something creepy and metal though she prefers horse cartoons. That’s it! Thanks for the interview Andreas!

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