Interview with Toby Knapp
Conducted by Robert Williams
Affliktor logo/album art courtesy of Mark Riddick
The ever prolific shred god otherwise known as Toby Knapp remained busy throughout 2016 releasing a new solo record “The Architect Of Paradox” in addition to the third full-length album “Weihung auf Satan” from his one-man, black metal project Waxen. Toby also started a new thrash metal band in Affliktor who at the time of publication Affliktor recently signed to Transcending Obscurity Records and will also have a track on the Crushing Notes Records compilation album “The Tyrants of the Apocalypse”. We caught up with Toby who was nice enough to briefly step away from his insanely busy schedule to talk metal with us and he brought us up to speed on all things “Knapp”.
How are you doing today Toby?
Things are going very pretty good. Very busy and kind of tired but I can’t complain.
You’ve recently released two new titles “Weihung auf Satan” the third full length from Waxen for Moribund Records and “The Architect of Paradox” your latest solo effort for Crushing Notes Entertainment. Sounds like it’s been a pretty productive year for you?
Yes, I started working on music in February 2016 resulting in those two albums and I’m still working on stuff. It’s been non-stop writing and recording. The inspiration tap won’t shut off so I’m just running with it!
What are you busy tackling at the moment?
Right now I am devoting all my time to my new band Affliktor. I just finished recording the album and then found an actual band of amazing musicians to make it a functioning band instead of my usual one man projects. This is the first time in several years I have had that so I’m very pleased.
Wow! That’s great news Toby and a long time coming. Introduce the band. When/how did you meet these guys and end up in a band together?
I’ve known the vocalist, Mike Walters, for many years and we often discussed working together in a side project. He’s a great front man and vocalist and he’s been at this for decades. So we agreed to do this thrash/death metal album together and then look for band members for some live gigs. I did a pretty extensive nationwide search and was met with disrespect and indifference. Finally I was so pissed I said “fuck the whole thing”. Mike saw that I was pretty disheartened and said “let me do some checking around”. Pretty soon he convinced one of his good friends and excellent bassist, Vance French, to give it some thought. Vance in turn talked to his son Aaron, who happens to be a total beast on the drums. They all live about two hours away in Billings, Mt. and got together and listened to a rough mix of the basic album tracks. The next day I had a full band. I was on craigslist looking for guys nationwide and even considering overseas and the whole time the perfect line-up was down the block so to speak.
That’s exciting! Glad to hear you finally have a full band together. What can we expect from Affliktor? An album? A possible US tour?
Yes the album is almost complete. We just need to lay down the vocal tracks and guitar solos and it’s done. So we will hopefully be seeing a release in the first half of 2017. Our goal is to get out and do some touring. Everything seems to be lining up this time. The main reason I haven’t played live much in the last several years is I haven’t had a proper band.
Affliktor recently inked a deal with Transcending Obscurity Records. Do you think that they will give you enough support to do an extensive tour?
Yes, we have a label 99% locked in and I’ll be announcing it very soon. The label always does the best they can with the “extras” if it is in the budget. If the shows that we do out of our own region are something that would benefit the band and label as far as exposure, they would most likely get behind that. If it was just a string of obscure dates like at a fish grill in Maine I don’t think I would even request support! Metal Fests and things like that would be ideal for what we are trying to do. Touring extensively is very difficult with all members working regular jobs. You would need to make money on the road that covers the missed time from work and that is not easy for a “new” band.
Hopefully we’ll see you soon on the road! Any plans to make a music video to introduce Affliktor to the masses?
It’s important to me to get some road time in because I’m wrapping this thing up within five years, I’ll probably make music but I think it’s a young man’s game and I don’t want to extend this past 49 or so. Other times I look at Keith Richards and Lemmy (R.I.P.) and think the opposite…I flip flop on that a lot- how long do I stay at this? I’m pretty sure we will have a video, we need one, a proper one hasn’t been done since the Onward days and even that one was terrible. There are things that need to be accomplished, yet again, because once people start questioning my ability to make something happen, it’s my job to prove them wrong.
“Weihung auf Satan” is the name of the third full length album from your one man black metal project Waxen. You also have a brand new solo album out called “The Architect of Paradox”. In all of the interviews we’ve done over the years you always provide an in depth look at what lead to your latest recordings. Walk us through this past year and all of the events and happenings that inspired these latest chapters in the book of Knapp…
I get into a Black Metal obsession yearly and that usually results in a Waxen album. This last one, “Weihung”, was strange. It just happened, I’d write and record a song a day until there was an entire album’s worth of material. It was very reckless too- I didn’t care about mistakes or production issues. I didn’t even really hear what it was going to sound like until I started creating the final mix and it was extremely caustic and overdriven- it really sounded like hell. Everything is a mess except the guitar solos came out relatively clean. It’s as if George Lynch played guest guitar solos on a Burzum album decades ago. I sent it into Moribund Records and they loved it and put it out immediately! It was the first album I’d done in a long time that resulted in a lot of feedback from listeners and really brought many new listeners in. The instrumental album “Architect” was recorded immediately thereafter as a sort of companion to the Waxen album. Many reviews for Waxen questioned my sanity and ability to mix an album so “Architect” is the opposite. It’s very clean and precise and on purpose. “Architect” is probably the first album I’ve ever done where the guitar solos and guitar harmonies are the driving force of the album- the first “shred” album I’ve done. Very old school Neo-classical.
Let’s talk about another Toby Knapp project known as Where Evil Follows. It was recently announced that longtime vocalist Dean Sternberg has left the band. What does the future hold for Where Evil Follows?
Yes, Dean has decided not to sing on any more releases. Dean is a great vocalist and musician and it was great working with him but the time had come for us both to move on. As long as I have traditional metal in my blood, Where Evil Follows will carry on- that project is based around my guitar work anyway and a way to keep the Onward vibe alive without doing a cheap reformation of Onward with no original members. I have been talking to a vocalist who is very interested and he has a range from Rob Halfordish shrieks to Michael Grant baritones. He will most likely be working with me on the second Where Evil Follows album and I am very excited about that.
Excellent! Anything else in the works for 2017 that you’d like to mention?
Yes! I’ve just started work on a new album working with some musicians in England. The band is called Necrytis and forthcoming album is titled “COUNTERSIGhNS” on a new indie label Elektrikill Records. This will be traditional heavy metal with a bite and I’m not the main writer, I’m just doing all the guitar work and my input towards the band is the creative freedom on the guitars, they gave me a clean slate with drums, bass and vocals and said “go for it”. I have also been working closely with Mark Riddick as a guest guitarist on much of his Fetid Zombie work and I am sure that will continue. Later in the year I’ll either be doing some new Waxen or Where Evil Follows material and I’ve been talking to a bigger label about the possibility of taking on my instrumental music. 2017, with the prospect of Affliktor becoming a live band and all the aforementioned possibilities, could be my busiest year yet. After that- maybe a break!