Heart of Steel: Interviews


Interview with guitarist/vocalist Tim Roth

Interviewed in February 2004 by EvilG

Thanks to Craig for the transcription
All pictures courtesy of IntoEternity.com

 


 Tim Roth
Guitar, Clean/Death Vocals


Chris Krall

Lead/Death Vocals


Jim Austin

Percussion, Death Vocals


Rob Doherty
Guitar, Death Vocals


Scott Krall
Bass, Backing Vocals

Last time I interviewed you, there was a question I didn't ask, surely you've been asked it before, but just for completeness sake…

(cuts in) What's the history of the band?

No no no not the history of the band...

I get that EVERY time!

I was going to ask you about the name "Into Eternity", where did that come from?

I've used it in song lyrics before, but originally it was an acoustic song that I wrote for the first album. When we were looking for band names, were searching on the Internet, doing searches on names, and Into Eternity was one of the only ones not taken! We didn't want to have a death metal name like Cannibal Corpse or something, we wanted something big, but yeah, it came out of the song I wrote earlier.

 

 

Obviously, and your fans would surely agree, your strength comes from your multi-faceted sound. You must have some interesting and varied influences?

Definitely. Right now, my favourite bands are bands to the more progressive side, like Nevermore are my favourite band, and Death and the new Children of Bodom, and Symphony X. I'm kinda more into the progressive bands. And all the other guys in the band are into like really brutal death metal. I like it all, even Power Metal, HammerFall and stuff like that. I'm just a metal junkie really!

 

 

In your perspective, what has been the main change or growth between Dead or Dreaming and Buried in Oblivion?

Things change, you get on the road, I mean we did 60 shows last year, which is a big step-up, I mean, you see other bands, you see professionals doing it, it makes you get better yourself, the whole package. Getting Rob and Chris into the band has created a whole new perspective. Rob helped write music AND lyrics on this one, which we've never done before. Chris even wrote a few lyrics, it was totally different. The death growls, I did them on the first 2 albums, but now we've 3 different death growls! (laughs)

 

You also do clean vocals don't you?

Yep, you bet.

 

 

Last time I interviewed you, the album DEAD OR DREAMING was just coming out on Century Media, you had other songs written didn't you? I think you had almost a whole album written then so these songs must've been recorded and in the can for a while now?

Half the songs we wrote before, we really didn't end up using. Some of them we did, when I talked to you, we'd just done "Embraced by Desolation", "Beginning of the End", "Splintered Visions", so I guess half of them were done when we talked, and the other half later. Even though this album's released now, in February 2004, we started this album a year ago actually (laughs), so we had heaps of stuff done last year.

So is your next album already now? (laughs)

(laughs) You always got to stay ahead of the game! As far as riffs go, I've got about 40 riffs written, I'm sure Rob has some too. I think we've written 3 songs, some stuff needs to be re-arranged, but I mean it takes up to a full month to get a song right. We're so picky with the songs, every little thing, and then we hear bands say, "oh this record was written in 2 months and recorded, and I'm thinking "how can you write 10 songs in 2 months?" You'd have to do 2 songs a week. How can you have quality control with that? So yeah it takes us a long time to write an album, so we start early. (laughs)

 

 

Do you end up having much stuff you throw out the window after about a month or so?

Maybe some riffs; I mean you tell at the time when you're writing it whether a riff is going to be around a long time or not. When you're writing the riffs, you tell if it's gonna be a chorus or something that sticks in peoples heads. You just basically go by your gut.

 

 

I really like the way the albums starts, most albums have an intro but this was like fucking shred, but then I realized….

(cuts in) That's because I selfish, and I like lots of guitar solos!!

Nothing wrong with that. You were obviously playing the beginning

Right.

Do you have any favorite moments on the album; is that one of your favorites?

Yes, definitely, firstly because no-one does guitar solos anymore, cause its not trendy, people say "its not the 1980's". Its now trendy to wear your guitar really low around your knees and do nothing, we're going against that, so yeah we thought we'd do the whole proper guitar solo intro to the song, I don't know, its just…I don't think ANYTHING we do is normal, we're definitely not a normal band. So we go against the grain. I don't know, we might've put off a few listeners with that thing at the start, but who cares?

Fuck 'em!

Right!

It grabbed my attention right away, it was pretty cool. Another thing on the album is the clean guitar for the entire title track. Do both you guys play the clean guitar?

That song, it was already recorded before Rob got in the band, so I recorded the entire thing myself. I wrote "Buried in Oblivion" for Dead or Dreaming, our album before this, and we were actually gonna call the album that, but for some reason it was never quite done, I wanted it to be an epic song, like "Buried in Oblivion" and "Black Sea of Agony" are actually one song so it wasn't quite done for that album that's why it ended up on this.

How was that track selected to be the title track, considering it's not like a lot of the other songs on here?

Before we even started the album we knew it was gonna be that one, "Buried in Oblivion", we were sure about it.

 

And you picked the title from anything in particular?

I thought it fit well our depressive imagery that we keep doing from album to album (laughs), because we're depressed people, and it's blizzarding outside, and it's minus you know whatever (laughs).

I had the weather channel on today and it had this weather warning for Regina...

Dude, they were talking about 80km winds, the highways are closed, just like trees were gonna break down, it is unbelievable

Good day to do interviews eh?

Yeah exactly, I'm glad I'm not working!

 

 

You got a new guitar player in the band, how is it working out splitting up like leads and things like that?

Yeah, I kinda, like I said I'm really selfish...so I would've loved to do all the leads myself, but we recorded I think 5 songs with Rob on the album. He actually moved here from Calgary, Alberta. So I'd saved up some lead parts for him, so he was involved on half the album, he wrote 2 sets lyrics and actually wrote a couple of songs, so that was pretty cool. I've known him for 15 years, we go way back, we used to play in a band together, I used to play in his band in 96 Terapartium, and then after that band I formed Into Eternity. We go way back, he's a good guy, good player too, really good player.

 

 

I've only had the album for a week or so, I played like 5 or 6 times, not enough yet to know who's playing what solo! (laughs)

I think you'd kind of have to see us live to figure everything out.

 

What are your other favourite parts from the CD?

Definitely "Splintered Visions" because I got to lose my mind doing those arpeggios at the beginning with the speed picking in it and the big guitar solo they gave me, I don't even know how I got away with the band doing all that !

But they did. Yeah, a cool thing I like, the third track, called "Three Dimensional Aperture", it's the first song that me and Rob collaborated on, as far riffs go, we trade, half the riffs are Robs and half the riffs are mine. He wrote all the lyrics, we traded off solos on that, so I was happy about that. Another cool thing is "Beginning of the End", the fourth track, and Rob and me kinda do some trade offs, which is kind of interesting. And I was also happy with the middle piece of "Black Sea of Agony" where it goes off into this crazy Yngwie Malmsteen interlude thing. (both laugh) Every song has things that you like the most.

I really like the chorus in "Isolation". I think it might be the highest singing part on the album. I was wondering, which one of you has the really high voice?

Chris is doing all the high, high falsetto and I all do all the midrange and high stuff too, it's pretty high, but I mean Chris is the falsetto master. He belts it out; he just squeezes his crotch and lets it go.

It's the only way!

Right! Not many people have mentioned that song "Isolation", but that's a good song.

I really like it. And how it jumps into the fast, thrashy part

Yeah, the thrash part, the death part.

 

 

So this album was recorded in the same place as "Dead or Dreaming"?

Yeah, it was the same studio, but the difference was, Scott, our bass player was working at that studio since 2001, so he knows it inside and out and all the computer software, like ProTools, and Scott produced this album and engineered the whole thing. He took all the time to edit each little piece of music; you know cutting all the dead air and whatnot. He put a lot of work into it.

Every album you have done has been better sounding every time.

Definitely.

And this one is another step above, especially in terms of sound.

Yeah, 'cuz we put a lot more time into it too.

 

On Dead or Dreaming you had a guest musician for female vocals, but she's not on this album. Is there a reason why you decided not to use here or another female vocal guest musician?

I would've loved to, and I would like to on the next album, and I'm a huge fan of female vocals. She was actually a friend of our ex-guitar player Danny, who played on Dead or Dreaming. After he left the band, we kinda lost touch with her. I saw her about half a year ago; she said she's getting married or something. She never really did get into the whole band situation or whatnot. In the future I'd definitely like to have female vocals, for sure. But now, the Chris sings so high, I mean you could get him to do it all.

(laughs) So you're saying he's a woman?

Yeah pretty much, he's a woman …trapped in a mans body (both laugh)

 

 

And what about keyboards, there's not a lot of keyboards, but who played them on this and the previous album?

The previous album we had a friend do some of the keyboards, and our ex-keyboardist did some of it. This album, there's barely ANY keyboards. Scott, the bass player, just programs those in and plays them himself. Instead of hiring someone, he just did it.

 

The same artist did the (phenomenal) cover art again and I noticed right away, the crow. 2 questions, was he intentionally added, and is he going to get a real mascot name? (Both laugh)

See the controversy was, we released the album cover early on the internet, just to see what people would say, and instantly, that's of course the debate. "Oh, I don't like the crow …oh I do like the crow". Oh man, that was a whole problem. And at first I said "lets just forget it", but then I realized it signifies death, and Mattias (Noren - the artist) put it on there, and he kinda liked it, and now that I look at it, it does kind of fit too, but I guess we'll have to come up with a name for it. You know Megadeth has Vic and Iron Maiden has Eddie, maybe we'll run a contest so we can name it "name that Crow" (both laugh). It's been following us round from album to album.

It wasn't on your first album cover though…

No it wasn't.

But if you re-release it, you can put him on it!

Right, just to piss people off!

 

 

Obviously, the band is very progressive, into different styles of music, odd time signatures, you've got all kinds of great things happening, so how schooled are you in music?

None of us has really...has been to school for music at all, our ex-guitar player Danny, he went to different classes, but I'm self-taught, Rob's self-taught. I took like, 3 years of lessons at the academy in town, but that was mainly getting some chords down, playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb", (both laugh) and I was begging him to teach me some metal stuff, and he was just laughing cause he's a country player, so I learned early on, that I had to learn myself, I think so did the rest of the guys, so you know, I always bought a TON of instructional videos, which I still have on VHS, and now with computers you kind find online lessons like you wouldn't believe. I've been playing for 15 years and Rob's been playing maybe 18 years, so you know, I think its experience that's the main thing. But we're not really schooled or anything.

 

 

Do you have the technical background to know the theory and the modes and the time signatures, etc.?

Yeah, the time signatures, I've learned how to count them out now, and Jim our drummer is good at that, and Scott knows. I'll write a riff then say "Count this out guys" and we figure out what time (signature) it is. The new album has a lot of off timing stuff, it may not sound like it, cuz we sandwiched it in with other stuff, but if you count out the riffs, they're definitely not 4/4. But as far as modes go, I've studied up on all that stuff, but if someone rips a lead I'm not gonna say "oh that's Aeolian mode, or he's playing in the Phrygian", but I understand that there's 7 modes in a major scale, but I play more from feel, I do know my scales and whatnot, as soon as I learnt my scales, I kind of let my creativity take over. Instantly I can tell with my ear what's Major and Minor, and what's in key and what's not, and my 3rds and 5ths. I've kind of learned on my own.

 

Do you get asked for lessons?

(laughs) All the time! All the time…To be a teacher, I don't think you necessarily need to be an incredible guitar player, I think you have to have a lot of patience, and be good at explaining things and teach them what they're doing right or wrong or whatnot. You know just because I can play fast solos and technical off-time music doesn't necessarily mean I'd be a great teacher. I did teach a few guys, a few young guys on the side just for fun, but of course time is a huge factor, I generally don't have a lot of time. I think if my music career fizzles after a while, I might get into that. But I think you have to be a certain kind of person to be a teacher.

Yeah definitely. Kids coming in wanting you to show them how to play Korn or someshit.

I think I would die.

We all know guitar teachers who have kids coming in and wanting to learn how to play whatever the (horrible) flavor of the month is.

..And you've got to do it!

They aren't interested in theory; they were just like "show me this song."

But as a teacher I've just got to suck it up and…

Hopefully show them the light (laughs)

Exactly! (laughs)

 

So what are your tour plans, I know there's something coming up in the US, I was wondering what other places?

Well I can't reveal some stuff but, for sure, we're on a bunch of US festivals and it will be quite exciting. First we have to do another 5 CD release parties in Canada, and I talked to the European label and they want us to get over to Europe by the end of the year. And the US label submitted us to 5 different US tours also, now we've go to cross our fingers to see what we get. But we have no idea, that's for sure. They only thing I know about are all these festivals.

But more extensive touring than you did for the last one?

Definitely. Ideally I want to tour half the year. 150 shows a year would be perfect, at the moment we're doing 60.

 

So who so far has been one of the better bands you've played with?

We've got along with every band we've played with but I thought it was cool meeting Eric Rutan, who used to be in Morbid Angel, now with Hate Eternal. He's the kind of guy you'd invite to a Christmas Dinner, I mean, he's the nicest guy. After we played a few shows with them, we were in Texas, and he realized we didn't have free beer after the show, so boom! He gave us his beer. I thought that was insane for him to go out of his way and be that cool. You know we're sitting backstage in L.A., trading off licks, that's the kind of guy you can look up to, it was great. And he could've easily been jaded. I mean, we were the opening band, but they, and every band, treated us with respect.

 

 

What bands have you NOT played with that you think would be a good match, musically?

We played with Nevermore; of course I want to play with them again. They're good guys. I want to play with Children of Bodom; they'd be a good match. Iced Earth, which of course they have a tour coming up, which would be great. Symphony X would be good, Shadow's Fall, Killswitch Engage, stuff like that. I wouldn't mind going with that style of bands, you know, clean vocals then death vocals, and play to that kind of crowd. But I mean, Death Metal bills are cool too. I'd like to do it all for sure.

You don't have a preference for playing Death Metal bills over any other type?

No, as long as we get on a fairly good tour and whatnot.

 

 

Do you find that most of your fans are into Death Metal or maybe you're as Death Metal as they get?

That's definitely the case, some people don't like Death Metal at all, some of our more progressive fans might not, and it can go the other way too. But at the end of the day, you can't really please everybody. But with this album, we tried to make a good balance. On Dead or Dreaming we'd have songs that would be nearly all clean vocals or nearly all death vocals, but with this one (Buried In Oblivion) we have the songs nice and balanced.

 

I remember last time I interviewed you, we talked a little bit about the scene in Regina (Into Eternity's home town in Saskatchewan, Canada) and you felt like it had picked up a little I guess as you guys get more recognition thanks to Century Media and things like that?

Definitely.

Are there any bands that have been noticed outside your area? Are there any bands from you area that we should look out for?

We've got a couple of really good ones, I think since last time I talked to you 4 really good bands have sprouted up, so now we can do a show we can do different bills. (both laugh) There's a local band called "Dirtbred" - they're a mix of hardcore and metal, then you've got "Memorial", they've got keyboards and death metal. Then there's "Far from Ruin", they're young kids about 16, there's LOTS of good local bands. Hopefully they'll all get their recognition.

Most of these bands tend to be from the extreme side of things?

Yeah, well that hardcore / metal thing seems to be really popular in the US at the moment; a lot of bands are doing that.

 

 

Do you think your location has anything to do with your style and sound?

Growing up here, there wasn't a lot of bands coming thru, hardly ever. I know you're far out in Canada, so you had the same problem

We have even less bands!! (both laugh)

You don't have a chance to be influenced if there are no bands around! Not like Gothenburg, Sweden, where there's 50 wicked thrash bands, and I'd probably be playing that style too if I lived there. So, being isolated, I think it DID have an influence. I think a lot of Canadian bands sound different, take Devin Townsend, to…

Or VoiVod!!

Ha, Voivod to Cryptopsy and Kataclysm to, 3 Inches of Blood who just got signed, so…they're all different bands.

 

Are there any plans for a re-issue of the first album through Century Media?

Scott is actually working on that now, he's got half of it done, and he's cleaning everything up.

So is it being re-mastered?

Yeah. Re-mastering and editing. We were just young kids when we did that, we had no money, and we didn't use Pro-Tools or anything like that, so we're gonna clean things up a bit, tidy things up, take off the samples (laughs). It's still probably another year away, but that is the plan. I talked to our old-old label DVS Records, which put our first record out, and Dead or Dreaming in Europe, and he said he wants to sign a deal with Century Media to re-release both albums worldwide.

 

 

How about a reflective question on the entire scene here in Canada...how do you see the current Canadian metal scene, and how do you think it fits in with what's happening outside of Canada?

Tough One! I guess we haven't been all the way out east yet. And a lot of people are mad about that.

Toronto is "way out east" for some people!

That's true for me! (Both laugh) So I guess I cant speak for all of Canada, I am familiar with so many of the bands, like up in Quebec, and now Annihilator's in Ottawa. So you've got everything from Strapping Young Lad, to 3 Inches of Blood, to Annihilator, us, Kataclysm, all those bands. I think its different, Canadian bands sound different as a whole, its different to the nu-metal trend in the States or the past glam metal trend in the States…whatever's big at the time, bands will always jump on that. But it doesn't seem like that in Canada. Everyone just kinda does there own thing, I don't know why that is, I have no idea. So in that respect, Canada is WAY different than Europe or the United States. I don't know if it's a good thing, but it's different.

 

 

What do you think of the proliferation of downloading of MP3s, is it getting worse? You know, you just made your new album and someone tells you it's leaked on the net, how do you feel about about? Do you think its helping the band? Do you think its impacting sales?

That's a hard one. I think, for a band like us, where we are, we kind of need as many people to hear us as possible. I know when I download stuff off the net, I always buy the album if I like 'em. I mean that can work against you, cuz if you're not a good band, they're not going to buy the album are they? (laughter). I think the pop stars might be worried, they may only have 2 good songs on the album, and the rest is filler, so people won't buy the album. They don't want fans to hear their entire album. But for a band like us, I think we need as much publicity as possible. It might hurt our album sales, but it won't be enough to break us I don't think. Bands like Metallica, they're multi-millionaires anyway. I think it was cool that the Recording Industry changed the price of CDs, well they did here in Regina anyway, they reduced $5 a CD, and so CDs are like $14 instead of $20

Most of our are still $20...(before fucking tax!)

Are they still up there? I think the price reduction will help album sales for sure. It is a bit scary when you're sending out promo copies to get reviews because then instantly you know its gonna be on the Internet. Its tough to even send stuff out to your friends and whatnot, cuz you don't know if its gonna end up on the Internet, so its made everyone a bit wary.

I guess its one thing to have it on the Internet after it's released, but if it's already out there, and half your fans have heard it a month before...

Yeah, that kinda takes all the fun out of it! I remember going in to the store when I was a kid and waiting for Rust In Peace to come out, and I was there the day is was coming out, and you have NO IDEA what its gonna sound like and nowadays…

The magic is gone a little bit?

The magic is gone, that's it. It's like opening your presents before Christmas. Try and hold off if you can!

Yeah, even though I get advance copies of some albums, I don't download an album; I like to hear the real album. Is one thing to hear one song…but…?

I guess it's a personal thing or preference. I mean, I'm so into music and all these bands, I go out and buy the albums anyway, I want the full package.

With lyrics, art, and everything

Yeah I need it.

 

 

For those fans out there that would like to know a little bit more about the band they like, beyond the music and the lyrics and all that stuff, is there anything you can tell us about yourself that they might be interested in or might be surprised to know about you?

Ah no, cuz we're boring people

Boring?

There's really nothing to say! (Both laugh) I dunno, we're basically like everyone else, we get up in the morning, go to work, I go by Rob's, the guitar player, we might play some video games, then jump in the recording studio and record something, go to a movie, just everyday stuff. I'm a movieholic. So we're doing that if we're not writing. But this was our hobby, and now it's turning into our job, so music is kind it for us.

Are you able to do music exclusively now?

I'll tell you, I had to take 4 days off work just to do press and whatnot, so it is kind cutting into the work situation. When you're on the road for a couple of months, you're not working either, so yeah, that's the goal, to play 140 shows a year and then have time to record. Definitely, we're getting closer to it. It would be nice to kinda have a balance of work and the music.

I guess you would be happiest if all your time was spent on Into Eternity?

Oh, of course! That would be the best. Every year that goes by, it's taking up a LOT more time (laughs). No question, but that's what we've waiting for forever so…I'm never gonna complain about that.

 

 

Do you think this will be the album that will break you out bigger than the last one did?

Definitely, I guarantee this one will. Just because this is the first one that's released worldwide, now they're working on a Japanese / Korean deal for us, so we'll be really worldwide with this record. That's the goal, you can't beat that. That's what every local band wants, to get an album out and release it every country.

 

 

Have you been getting back many of the reviews of the album? Is it all positive?

Yeah, people have been saying...they've been almost 100% positive, which is unbelievable. Today alone, I've done like 10 interviews, and I've been doing it for the past 2 weeks. I've done about 50 European interviews, and I'm just starting the US and Canadian ones today. Everywhere from Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, everywhere, they've all loved the album so far. And they're all harsh reviewers, they usually say to me right away, cuz they're pretty diplomatic in Europe, they tell me straight out that they don't normally give ANY album above 8/10, but we've been doing above that in every market, so…but who knows? Next month, everyone might hate the album…but as far as today goes, we're kickin' ass!

Today is the actual release date in Canada (Feb 10th 2004).

Yeah today is the release date, but for some reason it was released early in a lot of stores in Canada.

What, a day or 2 early?

Up to a week or 2 early! (laughs). So, some fans are e-mailing and saying, "I just picked up your album in Edmonton...picked it up in Vancouver" because some stores didn't wait for the release date.

Well at least they paid money for it anyway…

Yeah! Exactly, I don't mind that way. But today is the "official" US and Canada release date.

 

 

Is there any things happening with the band or anything I missed?

You skipped over all the questions I DIDN'T want to answer (both laugh). Just maybe, people can check us out on the web.

The site has been redone right?

Yep, we've got the new album cover and stuff. We got a new webmaster to start on it so...he's been putting in a lot of time, re-doing things for us.

Looks really cool actually. Well, that's everything I had to ask, I'd just like to wish you best of luck with the album man!

Nice talking to you again, that's 2 times in a row now, that's awesome!


Label: www.centurymedia.com
Band: www.intoeternity.com

Check out an interview done with Tim around the time of the US/Canada release of DEAD OR DREAMING.