by Freddy MetalBallBuster Music Contributor
With clean vocals, shred oriented musicianship, five part vocal harmonies, and an emphasis on memorable, hook-laden songwriting, Azrael’s Bane are poised to make their mark on today’s metal music landscape. Influenced by the likes of Savatage, Lillian Axe and Queensryche the band has created a style that is as timeless as it is unique.
Based in Houston, Texas, Azrael’s Bane was formed in 2002. The band’s high – energy live shows have earned them rave reviews from metal fans, and press alike, becoming one of the top drawing bands in the region. Azrael’s Bane have opened for national acts such as George Lynch, Metal Church, Quiet Riot, LA Guns, and Lillian Axe among others.
Freddy Metal: How long has “Wings Of Innocence” been available & who came up with the killer cover art?
Trey Gadler: We released it locally last May 04, but have only recently obtained distribution making it available internationally. Both Jackee Clifton and Allison Gill created the cover art. I’m not sure which of them came up with the initial idea, but I know they collaborated on putting the whole thing together. Jackee is our photographer, Webmaster and all around graphic arts person, and Allison works alongside Greg Gill from Spyder Studios and Spyder Designs doing a variety of graphic arts and production oriented things.
FM: Your album was recorded at Houston’s Spyder Studios, tell us what the experience was like?
TG: Working at Spyder was awesome. Gregg Gill is a great producer and engineer, and a gifted guitar player in his own right. He has a really good ear, and came up with a lot of great suggestions. The studio has a very relaxed atmosphere, and we didn’t feel any of the time clock pressure that you usually get. The whole experience went really well from start to mastering. We’ll definitely record there again, and recommend it highly.
FM: How has radio responded so far?
TG: We’re beginning to get some decent response internationally. The album is being played in Germany, France, The Netherlands, Serbia and Mexico, as well as a few web based stations. The US has been another story entirely.
FM: Introduce the players &give us some background on each?
TG: Jeff Clifton : guitars and vocals. Jeff and I have been playing together for about 10 years. We worked together in our previous band Ugly Wanda, where we released 2 CDS on Plethorazine. Jeff’s a brilliant guy, an incredible guitar player, and a gifted songwriter. Brent Marches: Bass and vocals. Brent has been playing professionally for a long time. His last project prior to AB was with a band called Outworld, featuring Rusty Cooley. He recorded tracks that ended up on Rusty’s instrumental CD released on Lion last year. Brent is our “utility player”, in that he plays bass amazingly well, sings his ass off, and plays the keys, with his feet no less! Chuck McFadden: guitars and vocals. Chuck is also a very gifted guitarist who brings an entirely different approach to the table. His background is more from the thrash and speed genre than Jeff’s is, so when they bounce ideas off each other, they come up with some amazing stuff. Chuck also plays keys occasionally. Rick Ward: Drums and vocals. Rick just recently joined the band. He is a phenomenal drummer who has been blowing people away in the Texas and Louisiana region for a long time. We’re very lucky to have him aboard. His last project was with Distant Thunder. They released an album on Massacre Records last year. And lastly there’s me, Trey Gadler, I’m the singer.
FM: When did Azrael’s Bane come together as a unit?
TG: Brent, Jeff and I got together in the summer of 2002. Chuck came aboard about a year later, and Rick has been in the band about 6 months.
FM: Describe the band’s sound & influences?
TG: I like to call us a melodic metal band, with some power metal and prog tendencies. We strive to write material that is technically interesting, but with a big emphasis on melody and hooks. I’d site our overall influences as bands such as: Queensryche, Lillian Axe, Savatage and TnT.
FM: What type of image are you guy’s going for?
TG: We don’t focus on image much. All the guys have long hair, but other than that, the image hasn’t been something we’ve ever discussed.
FM: Any label interest to date?
TG: Some, but nothing of note yet. We’re still looking, with an eye on a licensing deal. We’d really like to hook up with a good European label, but right now, we’re much more interested in finding good management.
FM: Who are the songwriter’s for the band?
TG: Well, that has changed somewhat recently. Either Jeff or Brent wrote most of the music on the Wings record with me supplying most of the melodies and lyrics. We wrote a lot of that album before Chuck or Rick was aboard. Since they’ve joined the band we’ve found that we come up with a lot better material when we all collaborate. Usually one of the guys will come up with a riff and we’ll all bounce ideas off of each other and turn it into a song.
FM: Are you happy with the status of the band today in the Int’l underground Hard music scene?
TG: I’m happy with where we’re going. I wouldn’t say I’m satisfied, nowhere near it, but we have come a long way, and are beginning to make some real noise overseas. I think we have some very good things in store.
FM: As far as your fans go, how would you describe them?
TG: Our fans are wonderful, and very loyal. Those guys are right up front for every gig, screaming their hearts out. We have fans that will regularly travel 200 miles to see us play, and fans that live here that will travel to see us play when we’re on the road. Our overseas fan base is also really beginning to build as well. I can’t wait to get over there and meet some of those folks.
FM: What is the most outrageous thing that ever happened to you on stage?
TG: I can’t think of anything really outrageous. We’ve had some humourous moments here and there. Brent is the king of the practical joke, and he’s pulled a few good ones.
FM: Who would you like to tour with and why?
TG: Almost anybody that fits in with our style of music I guess. I’d love to go out with a more established act, so we can introduce our music to as many new people as we can, but other than that we’re just happy doing our thing and putting on the best show possible.
FM: What would you say is your biggest gripe about the music industry ?
TG: The corporate BS. I can’t stand the fact that the music industry has become so market conscious and money focused. It’s not about music anymore, it’s about dollars and advertising rates. Thank God for Indie labels and Indie radio.
FM: Where do you see the band in 5 years?
TG: Hopefully recording records and touring regularly. We have some very reasonable goals. We don’t have any delusions of grandeur, we don’t plan on seeing ourselves on MTV, but we hope to be playing festivals, selling records and touring beyond the club level by then.
FM: Any special ritual’s before you hit the stage?
TG: Just a couple. We all spend a few minutes warming up, and we usually run through a few acapella lines to make sure everybody’s voices are where they need to be. We also have our traditional “pre-show toast”. We’ll all have a shot of something or other, and toast to having a good gig.
FM: What is your most memorable performance to date?
TG: That’s a tough one, because there have been quite a few that fit into that category, but I’m going to say the George Lynch gig. We opened for him here in Houston. The crowd was great, one of the largest we’ve played for, and we were really, really on that night. It was one of those shows where we left everything on the stage and walked off stage knowing that it was one of the best performances we’d ever had. We had a great set and settled in afterwards to watch one of our heroes do his thing.
FM: What is the current scene like in your local area &how does “Azrael’s Bane” fit in?
TG: Our scene is experiencing some growth of late. Our style of music was completely dead 5 years ago, but it’s picked up again, with some really great bands coming out, getting signed, and helping push the whole thing up a notch. We don’t have any radio support locally, as our only non-alternative rock station recently changed to a Tejano music format. As a result metal music has really gone underground, but there are a lot of people that want to see and hear a band like us, and there are a few clubs that support original metal music, so we’re still doing our thing. As far as how Azrael’s Bane fits into the scene; we’ve grown to the point where we are one of the more prominent bands in our area. We have become one of the better drawing acts in our genre so we get called for a lot of the opening slots for national acts coming through town, and we’re beginning to build a decent following regionally as well.
FM: Biggest Accomplishments to date?
TG: Definitely writing, recording and releasing our debut. We were able to record an album that we’re proud of on our own dime, with no label involvement, and we’ve obtained some great press and distribution. We’ve essentially sold out of our first pressing, and are beginning to see some success internationally.
FM: What does the future hold for Azrael’s Bane?
TG: We’ve got a lot of things going on right now. We have some regional shows we’re preparing for, and we have booked studio time to record demos for a few new tracks and to redo some of the drum tracks on the Wings album. Since we need to repress them anyway, we’ve decided to go in and have Rick play his parts on a few of the tracks that have changed somewhat since he came in and put his stamp on them. We’re also planning on including a bonus track and possibly a CDROM video on the CD. We’ve got a video shoot scheduled for “Shine”, and we may use that. We are planning a short tour of Europe this summer or fall, and after that it will be time to focus on the next record. We have begun writing material in preparation for our next album, and I’m pretty excited about the direction the band is headed in. If these first few songs are any indication, I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised by the next Azrael’s Bane album.
FM: Parting shot?
TG: Thank you for the interview, and thanks for keeping the flame burning! Please check out the band’s website at www.azraelsbane.com and drop in and say hello on the guestbook. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone on the road soon! (2-04)