Check back in July for an interview with AT THE GATES!
FROM THE ROAD – MAY 2008
Tito interviews Laura Nichols, lead singer of San Francsico’s thrash metal up and comers: LIGHT THIS CITY
Q: HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU REALIZED YOU WANTED TO SING IN A METAL BAND?
I was 15, and at an American nightmare show, they were one of my favorite bands of all time. I was just singing along, in the front row just like usual, and our [Light This City] drummer, Ben, who had a different band at the time, and his singer were right in front of me. He heard me singing along and said, “dude you can scream!” I’m like, “really?” He said, “yeah you should do guest vocals for our album.” So, I did that and Ben (who was already a friend of mine) wanted to start a side project with me and that became Light This City.
Q: WHICH BAND OR BANDS WERE YOUR INFLUENCE FOR WANTING TO SING METAL?
Umm American Nightmare was more hardcore, but Ben also burned me a copy of Darkest Hour’s Mark of the Judas CD, when I was 15, and I remember riding around on the bus, cuz I couldn’t drive then, just riding around on the bus all around town listenening to that cd over and over and over. After that I just became obsessed you know, and I read an interview with them where they talked about this band called At The Gates, who I had never heard of before. They talked about how they loved them, so I was like I gotta check this band out! If Darkest Hour likes them, then i’ll probably like them too. Well that just opened up the flood gates musically for me, and those were basically the bands that influenced me at the time.
Q: BEING A FEMALE IN A MALE DOMINATED METAL/HARDCORE MUSIC WORLD WAS IT EASY TO FIND GUYS TO ACCEPT YOU AS A SINGER?
I think the fact that Ben and I co-founded Light This City really helped because everyone who we started the band with knew that I was gonna be the singer. It wasn’t like, you know, how Angela joined Arch Enemy. She had to replace a guy and everyone had to accept her as the new singer. It was like I co-founded this band, so everyone knew and came with that kind of acceptance.
Q: HOW LONG WERE YOU LOOKING TO FORM A BAND UNTILL YOU HOOKED UP WITH BEN AND GOT THINGS GOING WITH LIGHT THIS CITY
It’s weird. Whenever I talk to my dad about it he says that I used to ask him all the time when I was little kid ”how do you join a band?” I don’t remember that, but I remember writing stupid lyrics when I was little and I learned how to play guitar when I was 13. I joined a Misfits cover band for a little bit, you know but I was never looking to join a band. I never wanted to be a rockstar on stage. Like I said, just one day at an American Nightmare show It just kinda all snowballed. I just kinda fell into it. It was kinda like destiny or whatever. Haha!
Q: WHAT IS ONE MISTAKE THAT YOU ALWAYS SEE YOUNG LOCAL BANDS MAKE THAT JUST DRIVES YOU CRAZY AND YOUR LIKE WHY, WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?
Just riding the trend. Just fucking perpetuating whatever is popular at the time. That is not gonna last and that is not gonna get people’s interest. You know what, all of us, the touring bands, we see you every fucking night. Every fucking night. You might look different, you might have a different 5 word name, but you guys sound exacally the same! You gotta write music that you like, that’s what’s gonna make people take notice and make you stand out, and that is what’s gonna last. If you’re pationate about the music you’re making your gonna be playing that for the rest of your life. If you’re just following a trend, you’re going to be over like that. Your going to be over by next year.
Q: LOOKING BACK AT ALL YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU THINK IS TOTALLY IMPORTANT FOR A YOUNG STARTING OUT FEMALE VOCALIST WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Don’t, don’t play to an image to further your band. You’re gonna be a gimmick. If thats your thing and that’s really what you wanna do, go for it. You wanna sex it up, go for it. But if your in it to make music and have people respect your band and take you seriously, the way to do it is to let the music take control of you. Not let the image take control of you.
Q: WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT TOURING THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD NEVER LIKE BUT DO?
That’s hard because I thought I was going to hate everything when I first started. To this day I’m still so family oriented you know. I talk to my parents all the time, I talk to my friends all the time, but I love everything. I love sleeping in the van, eating shitty gas staion food, being dirty, although sometimes it takes its toll. It’s a really hard question because one day you like everything about touring and then the next day you fucking hate everything. But my answer is I just like everything.
Q: WHAT IS ONE IMPORTANT THING A BAND SHOULD DO IF THEY ARE TRYING TO GET SIGNED AND PUT OUT CD’S?
Q: HOW DID LIGHT THIS CITY GET TOURS BEFORE YOU WERE SIGNED?
We started out as a DIY band. I remember our drummer Ben booked our entire two month long first tour.
Q: HOW DID BEN GO ABOUT BOOKING A TOUR AND GETTING SHOWS. I MEAN DID HE GET ON THE INTERNET AND BEG PEOPLE FOR SHOWS?
Yes, and message boards. Finding bands in those areas that you need a show in is hard work. I remember he put me in charge of doing it for a week of that two month tour and it was hell. I was in college at the time and I remember just calling up places day afeter day after day and getting rejected all the time. That was seriously hard work and I don’t know how he booked the rest of that tour! It was actually a really cool tour but like I said it was rough booking it. I mean look at us now we ended up getting the attention of booking agents from doing that tour and playing shows. You have to start out like that you know, Put some effort into it!
FROM THE ROAD – APRIL 2008
Tito interviews NERGAL guitarist and lead singer of Polish Black/Death Metal band: BEHEMOTH
Q: HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO PLAY OR SING IN A BAND?
It was in 1991 so I was about 15 or something when I started Behemoth. But it was few years earlier that I formed my first amateurish band with Baal, Behemoth’s former drummer. We were just kids TRYING to play the music we loved. That’s it. Our skills were poor, we knew nothing about music theory…but our determination and the passion led us here…I think it’s pretty fuckin amazing.
Q: WHEN DID YOU FIRST THINK ABOUT STARTING BEHEMOTH AND HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO MAKE IT A REALITY?
As said above, it was in 91. I was on holidays with my parents and for hours I’d be wandering in the fields and local forests (it was in a country side of my family) with a draft book making notes and writing first lyrics. Funny, coz I started with writing all the lyrics for our first demo “Endless Damnation” and THEN I started making music. It happens quite often today when it’s the melody in my head or a vocal line that comes before anything else.
Q: HOW HARD WAS IT TO FIND DUDES THAT UNDERSTOOD WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO WITH BEHEMOTH?
Well, me and Baal knew each other already. And it was all…we found Sodomizer, actually it was and Sodomizer who was asked to join Behemoth in the first place. That we asked Baal which was very natural choice for me. We didn’t have bigger goals than recording a professional demo tape. That’s the furthest we saw…
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS ONE IMPORTANT THING FOR A METAL BAND THAT IS TRYING TO GET SIGNED TO DO?
Have no idea. When we signed our first album contract we were kids, it was different times and different circumstances. Today pretty much everything in the music business works different. It’s way more business oriented. I’m pretty sure that if we formed the band today it’d be much harder… anyway, we kinda earned our record deal, we did two professional demo tapes and released them thru pagan rec. and both sold in thousands of copies worldwide.
Q: DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO PLAY GUITAR AND SING OR DID IT JUST HAPPEN?
Yes. The moment I grabbed guitar I started to “sing”. It was very natural and still is. I can’t really imagine myself with doing just single duty. Just playing or just singing would be…boring. That’s such an integral part of me that it’d feel weird not doing this, u know…
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY WARM-UP EXERCISES FOR GUITAR OR VOCALS THAT YOU PERFORM BEFORE THE SHOWS?
Well, I try to warm up a bit before the show. Nothing special tho…I have no special techniques or exercises really. I just beat the shit out of the instrument haha. Then I do it again on stage. It’s fun. When it comes to vocals…well, I don’t do much…as long as my monitors on tour are set well and the tone is nice, I’m not killing my voice. I’m more relaxed and confident so I don’t warm up…when it’s opposite I start to panic and when losing my voice and try to do some breathing techniques and stuff. But it doesn’t help much.
Q: WHATS YOUR FAVORITE GUITAR TO PLAY LIVE?
Definitely my ESP custom model, the shape was based on Michael’s Ammot’s Ninja but I developed it and changed some details. It sounds and looks killer. I’m sure I’ll be working on the next record on THIS instrument.
Q: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT TOURING THAT YOU DIDN’T THINK YOU WOULD LIKE?
I hate snoring, I wake up and focus too much on this. And since I never use ear plugs I suffer haha. Besides that, I’m a gypsy. I love what I do although I know it can be rough and the conditions sometimes are pretty dodgy. But hey, that’s the life I chose and I would never ever trade it for anything else. At least not in next 10 years.