Interview with the guitarist
of Artisan, Perry Grayson

Questions by Arto Lehtinen For Metal-Rules.com

Artisan being the brainchild of the former Destiny's End Perry Greyson is an entire new metal compo on the map. It was about time to find out why Perry decided to leave Destiny's End and how he will continue with his band… artisan.knac.com


PerryGood day to you Perry what's up there in the sunny California?

Ah, the usual...it's been a pretty wet winter, with lots of rain. But today it's definitely a typical SoCal day. Things are pretty "routine" right now: I work full-time and have Artisan practices about four times a week. That doesn't leave me much time aside from my job and building the new band. Somehow I still manage to have a life!?

 

All right…You became pretty well known in the Destiny's End rank as the guitarist, playing on the two DE albums and doing a lot of tours and gigs all around, but all of a sudden you just decided to pull out of the band to carry on other plans, but how come, I mean it must have been much easier and I guess more fun to keep going on with DE and play in front of the huge audience and several dates here in Europe than starting all over again. What exactly made you leave?

Just because a situation is comfortable or simple to stay in doesn't mean it's the best place for me to remain. Sure, DE is a band with a record deal, and they're playing a few gigs here and there. But if you're not happy, what's the sense in continuing on just because it's "convenient" to stay in such a ready-made band?

By the time we finished recording TRANSITION, it was clear to me that DE was no longer something I wanted to commit 100% to. I'm not the kinda guy who will just go through the motions and stay in a situation cuz it's "convenient". I believe in giving the fans an honest and solid performance, no matter what. If something's getting in the way of that, then I believe it's time to move on. I could no longer give DE my all...mainly because I'd rather be in a band in which all the members are loyal to each other and can work together without serious personality conflicts. James and I are two drastically different people. I just thought it was time for me to take a little break from being in a band for a few months-and then get back work with other musicians who I can get along with well (and who are local). It was my decision to quit DE, and I was asked many times to come back (or to help write more DE material). I'm moving forward with a great many things in my life now, and I can't see myself returning to DE. At the same time, I have to thank the DE guys for 3 years of metal...two albums, two tours, and plenty of victories (and on the other side of the coin, plenty of defeats). When I joined the band I was a fairly naive 22-year old. I left at 25, after having learned quite a bit about band life and the world in general. That I'm happy now goes without saying! I have no reason to be sad. I was given the opportunity to follow the dreams and goals I've had since I was just an 11-year old kid-to play guitar in a recording and touring metal band.

 

In the official press statement you announced the departure happened in the good spirit between other Destiny's End members, but I can't help inquiring if there was however some kind of friction in the band that you literally got fed up and accelerate your decision to quit?

It's true that I'm on good terms with the DE guys...I don't like childish feuds. I'm not gonna sling any mud at anyone, but on the other hand I will defend myself with the facts if unfounded rumors are spread to the press and fans. Believe me, I gave DE 110% always, until the day I quit. I almost never missed a rehearsal. I loaned my personal equipment for band use (effects for use in our PA and on our pre-production demos), and I went out of my way to do things that would benefit the band (flyering, fan mail, picking up our t-shirts, scanning stuff for our website, mailing stuff to James in Texas, making important band phone calls, etc., etc.). Those are the facts. I always gave DE my best and didn't bitch about spending money or time on the band. I drove over 40 miles each way to rehearsal (Brian then beat my distance by driving well over 100 miles from San Diego up to the L.A. area by late '99). Dan is the one who supplied a majority of the equipment for our jam room-and spent more of his personal cash than any of us. In a word: DEDICATION.

A little background info on DE's old rehearsal habits: the four instrumentalists (Dan, Brian, Nardo, and I) used to rent a lock-out rehearsal space and practice without vocals for the most part. There were a lot of occasions when our good friend Michael Grant (now vocalist for Onward) came down to DE rehearsals to sing for us. I enjoyed almost every minute of rehearsal with Dan, Nardo, and Brian...

 

Before leaving the band you worked on the second D.E album "Transition" by doing all the guitar work, now afterwards as an ex-member of Destiny's End you may have something on your mind to say about the album, if you are basically satisfied with every aspect and how the album turned out or are you capable of picking up and pointing out some things that could have been carried out in another way and by the way why wasn't your picture on the cover even though you were a part of band when doing the album?

I did my equal share of the guitar work on TRANSITION with Dan DeLucie. I'm really happy with the way the guitars turned out on the album, even after the remix by Achim Köler. But I preferred Joe Floyd's original mix to Köler's remix. It's kind of a shame that most folks will never get to hear Joe's mix. I think the vocals, especially, sounded better on Joe's mix. But I'm really satisfied with the performances on TRANSITION, and I think we achieved a fatter sound this time out, owing to the fact that we recorded on two-inch analog tape. I feel that's the best way to go for metal. I'm really happy that Nardo's bass didn't get buried on TRANSITION, cuz it was way too low in the mix on BREATHE DEEP THE DARK, in my opinion. There really isn't anything that I wish was done too differently...maybe to beef up the heavy choruses of my tune, "Vanished", with another heavy guitar. But there are always things you say that about whenever you record. Nothing's every perfect in this world, certainly not me...

Why wasn't my picture on the album? I don't know about that one. I wasn't "in the loop" on the layout of the CD booklet, and the band just went ahead and approved everything without me. I got playing/writing credit on the CD, but that's it. They decided to put Eric Halpern's picture inside instead of mine...perhaps James' idea because he feels Eric fits well with DE. It's kind of lame, but there's nothing that can be done about it now. All lot of people I know feel they should've put both mine and Eric's photos in there. It was obviously a very conscious decision on their part, cuz I did take part in the TRANSITION photo shoot. Ah well...it isn't the end of the world. You can check out some of the pictures Alex Solca took of us on both the DESTINY'S END official website and Metal Blade Germany's site.

I saw the DE guys play and hung out with them at the November to Dismember here in San Bernardino, CA. Even had a chance to talk to Eric, who we met on our first visit to Houston. I think he's doing a capable job in the second guitar position.

 

Well do you however get the royalties of the second album..hah!?

Royalties?! There are a lot of recoupable funds that have to be taken out of our royalties before we'll ever see any kind of money from Metal Blade...a lot of albums to be sold. But, yes, I played on and wrote stuff for BREATHE DEEP THE DARK and TRANSITION, and our publishing and royalties for those two albums will still be split five ways between Dan, Nardo, Brian, James, and I.

 

But do you however follow comments and criticism toward Transition?

By all means! I'm really interested in what the press and fans have to say about the new album. I mean, I gave it my all when we were writing and recording it, so I'd like to hear the reactions. I've been poking around the web digging up reviews. I send the ones I find to Dan to post on the DE site, and he sends me reviews he finds.

 

But obviously you must have got a bunch of great memories from the era of Destiny's End, what were they ?! Could you tell some weird experiences that you would never ever forget?

Yeah, as with anything...there are good memories and bad. Weird things? How about when we were traveling in a little cargo van on tour (with Iced Earth and Nevermore) in the middle of nowhere in rural Texas-and it was so dark that we hit a deer crossing the road. The best thing that ever happened for us as a band while I was part of DE was playing the Wacken Open Air Festival in summer 1999. The airline had messed up and put all of our gear (including guitars) on the flight after ours, so we didn't have anything to play on when we arrived, about an hour or two before stage time. Thanks to our good friends Sacred Steel (horns up, Jörg & Oli!!!), we had some axes to play on, and we rose to occasion. We actually played tuned down to "D" that evening on Sacred Steel's axes, despite the fact that we never down-tuned in D.E. I found that we sounded heavier that way!

 

anaAfter the departure you didn't start resting on laurels at all, instead quickly forming a new band called Artisan, well I guess it might be a logical choice to shed some light on how Artisan was founded and who are involved in the band?

My good friend and bassist Mike Bear was bandless at the time I quit DE, and I really wanted to work with him again musically. We used to play in a short-lived thrash metal project called Stormhaven (no demos) back in '95-96. Mike's one of those natural musicians. He's got a really good ear and sense of rhythm. Ana Greco is the other Artisan guitarist. While all of us were in our old bands (DE, Prototype, and Rapture), we had a few cool jams just for fun, so it wasn't really surprising that we'd end up seriously jamming with each other once we had the space to.

 

Before continuing with Artisan, did any other bands approach when finding out your departure and asked you to join them, was it just a pure personal decision to stay on your own?

Yeah, there were a coupla folks who asked me if I'd be interested. But at this point in time, those offers would have to be from a band I absolutely love for me to pick up and join. If I lived in England, I'd jump at the chance to play with my friend Rich Walker in Solstice (they rule!). They've had some unfortunate lineup problems in recent days. There was an opportunity to join an established local band with my present bassist, Mike...but it wasn't quite the style or songwriting situation I was looking for. Plus, I mainly wanted to build a band from the ground up with Mike-to write songs together.

Aside from Artisan, I'll be getting together with some musician friends of mine who are in some cases out of the area to work on a project. I'll let folks know about that when things start rolling. This week I hung out with an old friend I used to work with who's doing some student film scoring at his home studio. He had me track a little something for a small indie flick called GENERATION LOST. This will hopefully lead to more studio work.

 

And as far as I know you are searching a vocalist as well as a drummer, presumably you haven't found the right ones yet, so what kind of type are you looking for, what kind of skills and capacities must a possible candidate own and have?!? But I suppose it gotta be some sort of desperate attempt to find potential soulmates of metal to play to Artisan, cos good musicians can't be found that easily anymore cos of the traditional metal is considered dead in the U.S because of the raging nu or whatever nut (c)rap, or is it so?!?

It's tough finding people who are into real metal, much less good musicians. Whenever you have ads out you always run into hacks and quacks...and plenty of burn-outs. But the folks in Artisan are still young and hungry, so we really have to find a drummer and vocalist who fit, with similar influences. We stress the "NO DRUGS" part in all of our ads and postings...cuz we don't wanna have to deal with any problems in the personality department with a potential Artisan member. Sure, everyone likes to have a good time-and we're social drinkers (not alcoholics). But music is our main concern, not partying.

We're looking for a double bass drum monster a la Gene Hoglan, Paul Bostaph, Richard Christy, Jon Allen, Sean Reinert, etc. Someone with fast feet and tasteful handwork who can handle plenty of time signature and tempo changes.

Vocally, we want someone who has a melodic voice with accurate pitch who can get aggressive as well. Someone along the lines of Chuck Billy (Testament), Warrel Dane (Nevermore), and Tim Aymar (Control Denied).

Interested parties can email us: artisanmetal@hotmail.com

 

The line-up consists of the former Prototype dude, why did he decide to leave the band, did they instead have some kind of bitter struggle resulting his departure and I assumed you used to have some minor conflicts with him in the past…?!? And there is the former member from the local Rapture, what sort of stuff did they play?!?

Huh? Minor conflicts? Nope. Mike Bear and I have been the best of friends since we started jamming in 1995. We actually went to the same high school, but we didn't really know each other well back then. Mike was asked to leave Prototype for reasons I'm not too clear on. We're still friends with the Proto-guys, and support them whenever they play live. Kirk, the guy who replaced Mike in Prototype, is a cool guy and a talented bassist in his own right. He has a different style than Mike...and Mike's style really comes out in the Artisan material, cuz he has a lot of freedom to be a songwriter. Even if this new band were to falter, I can still see myself collaborating musically with Mike again in the near future.

Ana Greco is a friend of Mike's and mine (actually Mike's ex-girlfriend, believe it or not), who ended up getting the first shot at being our second guitarist. She was one of two guitarist/vocalists in this local L.A. metal band called Rapture. We met Rapture back in '97. They were pretty heavy and melodic, with a little thrash thrown in, basically sounding a bit like old Metallica, old Sepultura, and the like...with dual female vocals. Ana's a very capable guitarist. All interested parties are urged to visit Rapturemetal.com to get ordering information for Rapture's old demo CD.

 

Speaking of the musical approach of Artisan a little bit, in my opinion Destiny's End used to be more some sort of continuation of James Rivera's Helstar owning to, to be honest, the soundworld of D.E occasionally sounding a bit like Helstar and basically the general approach of D.E. was heavily influenced by the 80's stuff at least it sounded in my ears. But it is kinda more than obvious Artisan will and must differ a lot from the D.E. material, or how would you describe it?

The Helstar comparisons were inevitable because of James' vocals in DE. But it's funny...cuz Nardo had never even heard of Helstar before James came into the picture. While Dan and I owned some Helstar records, Nardo didn't (and Brian owned only one when we first started out). I never consciously made an effort to sound like Helstar. I like BURNING STAR and NOSFERATU a bit...and A DISTANT THUNDER and REMNANTS OF WAR too. That's the order of fave Helstar albums for me. I didn't dig MULTIPLES OF BLACK at all. We played "The King Is Dead" off A DISTANT THUNDER in Europe, but that's the only Helstar cover we ever attempted. DE never attempted to do the neo-classical guitar shred thing that the Helstar guys were into on A DISTANT THUNDER and NOSFERATU. We did our share of technical riffing, but we tried to stay away from long, meandering solos. Helstar's brightest musician, I've always thought, was Larry Barragan. I thought his leads tended to have a lot of melody in them.

ARTISAN won't be compared to Helstar, though. ARTISAN is thrashier, more technical, and definitely darker and heavier than DE. But the melody is still very important and strong. Some of the DE guys dig Euro-style power metal bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Angra (even though they're from South America), etc. But those are not influences of any in the ARTISAN camp. Different strokes for different folks, ya know? Maybe I don't like 'em, but plenty of people do.

 

And if I am not totally mistaken as for your influences being Death, Coroner, all in all thrash metal with a lot of power metal elements tied up, where do you after all ladle possible musical vibes and influences from besides the mentioned bands above?!?

We dig stuff like Death, Coroner, Forbidden, Testament, Sadus, Nevermore, At the Gates, Kreator, Cynic, In Flames, Control Denied, Sacrifice, Atheist, etc. Mike likes newer Hypocrisy a lot. And personally, I'm really into epic bands like Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Solitude Aeturnus, old Fates Warning, etc. My heavy/doomy/psychedelic 1970s influences won't be drawn on much in ARTISAN, cuz it just isn't gonna fit this band. But, more than ever, I'm listening to a lot of obscure heavy '70s bands like Bang, Sir Lord Baltimore, Bloodrock, Budgie, Night Sun, Legend (U.S.), as well as obvious ones like Blue Öyster Cult and Thin Lizzy. Of course it's a proven fact that these bands brought about the revolution in hard rock which led to heavier metal. Just ask the guys from Cirith Ungol, and they'll tell you what they were listening to back in the days! It's not as if what I'm listening to is far removed from metal at all. It sure as hell isn't fucking pop!

 

I know you are a huge fan of Death, but will you try to adopt the same kind of technical musical approach of which for example Death is known for to Artisan of course without losing the heavy mentality and the aggressive delivery that Death or in fact Chuck does and has on the Death albums?

Oh, definitely...that's a good description of what Mike and I set out to do with ARTISAN from day one! Keep it heavy, but melodic.

 

Could you politely shed some light on how you start working on a entire new song for Artisan?

Well, usually one of us will record a bunch of riffs just to get them on tape. Then we'll show 'em to the other folks and try to piece 'em together. So far Mike and I have collaborated on a bunch of stuff, and Ana and I have written a coupla tunes together. The rest were conceived by one of us and then brought to practice so we could all arrange them. After several months of jamming, we have 9 tunes.

 

Hmm I can't help asking this one cos Destiny's End was or actually still is under Metal Blade, so does the inked deal with Metal Blade oblige you to record the possible upcoming debut album of Artisan for Metal Blade and are you entirely free to pick up any label which you want to release that album of Artisan?

We're free to be picked up by any label. Once there's a full lineup, we'll definitely be demoing some of our songs to send out to potential labels. That's a goal, though, to get on one of the bigger independent metal labels.

 

MikeWhen forming Artisan you must already have received some contacts from labels showing their interest toward the band, but as far as I know Metal Blade was more than ready to sign Artisan a right way without hearing any material and getting a demo tape from you, apparently you don't wanna rush with full speed ahead direct to the lap of Metal Blade, just waiting how everything develops…?!?

Well, we don't plan on approaching any labels until we have a full lineup, cuz we don't wanna jinx anything. But, yeah, I'm sure there are some folks out there who are already interested to hear what we sound like. We're not gonna count our chickens before they hatch. When the time is right you'll hear something from us!

 

There is another side of the coin I mean it might be a real idealistic time to sign a deal with some label, because of the metal monster is putting a head up in the States and especially in European countries the traditional metal has become quite huge?

Well, it seems like traditional metal is bit more publicly acceptable today in the States. Back in the early '90s I saw a lot of people shunning metal with clear vocals in favor of death metal. I'm glad that some have taken the blinders off and opened their minds and ears. But then again it seems like some labels are unwilling to sign thrash metal bands today. It seems to me like they'd rather go for the power metal bands with higher-ranged vocalists.

 

Before getting any album deal with labels it is kinda normal method to unleash a demo tape or should it be called a demo CD, when are you gonna release it and have you been planning on putting the whole demo to the Artisan website for a free downloading to get the name of the band spread better and faster?

Once there's a complete lineup-like I said before-we'll be recording some of our stuff, and we should put something up in the way of sound samples on our website once the lineup and a bit of demo recording are completed. We're not gonna get ahead of ourselves or rush anything, though. We feel having a presence on the web is very important. And demoing stuff before you cut a full-length album is a smart idea, as well.

 

The LA scene used to be known for more glam rock bands in the 80's, but of course there were quite brutal thrash/death bands hailing from there like Dark Angel, Slayer, but when the century turned to the 90's all of a sudden most of them just disappeared from the map and because of grunge/alternative idiots with their stupid skicaps and sweaters, but how is the scene of LA nowadays, it gotta be covering a huge range of all kinds of so called metal bands, for example power metal acts: Destinys End, New Eden, Steel Prophet, Speed/Thrash : Dreams Of Damnation, Agent Steel, Armored Saint. Glam Rock : Motley Crue, Ratt Black/Death Metal : Sadistic Intent, Draconis and of course these jump/attitude combos..etc…How do you view the local scene nowadays?

Well, the scene hasn't changed much around here lately. Glam is pretty dead, thankfully. But in its place are all those wannabe Korn bands. There are a lot of pop-punk bands out here as well. Metal's definitely not dead here, and hopefully some new true metal bands will continue to crop up in the near future.

 

Well, do you see there would be space left for new bands like Artisan, cos I mean there are thousands of bands fighting for having an opportunity of playing gigs and etc., etc.. Or do you think your reputation gained from previous bands will help you to push a band forward?!?

The members of Artisan have experience, which is definitely a plus towards getting things done. But we're gonna work hard, and we don't expect to have anything handed to us because of our past work. And if it comes down to it, we have nothing against self-pressing our own recordings (if need be).

 

You unveiled to be a real "Heavy Metal Hunter" collecting old vinyls from old bands from France, Finland, England, what is the most valuable album in your collection, do you have a lot of jewels/ever greens in your collection that you can't play at all?

I won't buy any record unless I'm gonna spin it. I'd have to say that some of my most prized pieces of vinyl are Manilla Road's METAL and INVASION, the Liquid Flames Recs. pressing of Cirith Ungol's FROST & FIRE, Witchfinder General's SOVIET INVASION, the rare reissue of the U.S. Legend's FROM THE FJORDS, all the Heavy Load LPs (except FULL SPEED AT HIGH LEVEL, which I own a CD of), and Pentagram's LIVING IN A RAM'S HEAD 7-inch.

 

The normal mandatory question for you as usual what you have been listening to lately?

Manilla Road's THE DREAMS OF ESCHATON / MARK OF THE BEAST (unreleased tapes), OPEN THE GATES (LP), THE DELUGE (LP), and MYSTIFICATION (reissue CD)

Blue Oyster Cult - HEAVEN FORBID (CD)

Titan Force - S/T (CD)

Bloodrock - 2 (LP)

Control Denied - THE FRAGILE ART OF EXISTENCE (CD-still!!!)

 

All right Perry, thanks for your time with this interview and I for one hope from my heart you damn good luck with Artisan and hopefully you will get a deal soooon…of course the last words are yours….

Thanks again, Arto, for the positive vibes about my new endeavors-and for giving me the chance to ramble on about metal. As Chuck Schuldiner says, "Support music, not rumors!" Also, I'd like to offer a very special thanks to all the DE fans for their continued support! Check out TRANSITION! It'll be out in the U.S. on 3/6/01.

 

\m/


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