Steel Prophet

Metal-Rules.com interview
with Steve Kachinsky of STEEL PROPHET

Interviewed by EvilG

Steel Prophet is a band that any fan of HEAVY METAL should give a chance. Give them a listen if you like classic metal and power metal. Hell, they even incorporate thrash and some other heavier black/death elements in some places so there is something for just about every metal fan here. So without further ado, here is my interview with Mr. Kachinsky...enjoy!


Obviously I want to start by talking about your new album BOOK OF THE DEAD. What exactly is the Book of the Dead? Is it in reference to the Necronomicon? (laughs)

Steel Prophet, Book Of The DeadIt means if it doesn't sell I'm going to kill myself (laughs). Well no, it's in reference to the Books of the Dead which is a Tibetan religious/spiritual book that bears the same name. What is the one you heard about?

(laughs) Well I've heard about the Necronomicon (ed. note: literally translates to the "Book of Dead Names") with it's pages bound in human flesh, written in human blood and all of that fun stuff. Some people claim it was written by some Mad Arab named Abdul Alhazred but it is more likely an invention of H.P. Lovecraft. That's what I thought it might be in reference to because I had heard it from other bands for example King Diamond and of course Deicide.

Sounds like it would be right up their alley.

Yup!! But this is not what you had in mind when you picked the BOOK OF THE DEAD title?

Nope. It's in keeping with our themes of getting into deep philosophical matter. The book of the dead just seemed like a good topic to use for the title.

 

Ok so lets talk about some of the songs on here. About the song "Phobia." It's one hell of an extreme sounding song in comparison to some of the other stuff on the album, maybe, kind of close to thrash metal in places. Would you consider this one to be one of the more angry and intense songs you've written in quite a while?

It's not really an angry song. But, it's definitely one of the more aggressive, faster intense songs, yeah…definitely.

Some of the parts in there are even tremelo picked on that guitar, it's almost Black Metal for a bit there!

Yeah, exactly. That's kinda what we were trying to do. We've done that on the last couple of albums here and there. Like at the end of "Montag" or "The Eides of March" you can notice that kind of thing, but this is the longest duration of that type of thing going on in one of our songs so far.

I guess there's been a lot of a reaction of people picking up that song and going "Wow, it's heavier!" (laughs)

Yeah. A lot of people really liked it. It's also the song that if you're not into that kinda thing, people dismiss as one of the worst songs on the album.

 

On the flipside, one of the more accessible songs, and the song that caught my ear the first time I listened to the album, is "When Six Was Nine". Can you tell me what that song is about?

Well it's about a lot of different things and it's tying them all together. Some of it is experiences, some of it is just science and just speculative things. Part of it's got to do with being in a schizophrenic state where you think that you could think something and maybe matter will move or you could affect the weather by thinking a thought and things like that. Schizophrenic people actually think like that. They might think if they see a car with its blinkers on it something to them, something weird in their mind y'know. So that's what it is, to get into that with the line "My will is prophecy. My own mythology." It's that state of mind where you think you are the universe and everything revolves around you and you expect everything which is obviously not the case.

Did you write the lyrics for that one?

Yeah.

Have you ever had a schizophrenic episode?

Yeah, kind of, yeah…well drug induced ones but…I'm not naturally like that.

You didn't write the lyrics under the influence did you?

Naaaaww!! I think if you write stuff while under the influence then it usually doesn't come out too good. You might have a good idea, but to try to actually work it out, I don't think it comes out too hot.

 

One song that definitely stood out here is the closing track "Oleander". What does that word mean and what did you have in mind when it was done?

Oleander is a flower. It's just a common flower. If you take a meander through the Oleander then I guess you're just walking through the flowers you know!! (laughter) Alllriiiighttt…..not exactly what you would expect from a metal album, right?

Right, when I heard it I was thinking it sounded like some kind of tripping 70's thing.

Yeah, and if we would of put it first on the album and then scratched the record and started screaming, it would have been our updated version of "Fast As A Shark (Ed note: in reference to the classic Accept tune) but we put it last on the album.

Yeah so everyone will forgive you for it!

Yeah either that or they'll just…The main reaction has been like, it comes at the end of the album and it kinda leaves you going 'Huh?" or "HMMMM?!?!" Usually you end an album with some real intense heaviness but nobody says you've got to do it that way.

 

The song on there called "Soleares" is in obviously a very Spanish/Flamenco styled. I assume that's Jim playing?

Yeah, he's the one that plays that.

How's his solo career going by the way?

I don't know. A solo career is kind of like, I dunno making it into more then it is.

His CAREER is Steel Prophet; his side project is the solo gig.

That's like something where he had these songs together and he wanted to just put them out and get some reactions and he's done that and he's pretty happy with it and with what he's done. From what I can gather a lot of people liked it, I have a copy, I like it.

 

What are your hopes for how the new album will do? I assume its doing quite well in Germany…

Yeah, it did really good there and pretty much Europe in general. In the US, we're hoping for it to do better, twice as much or so, than the last one did. Trying to actually get it going in the US is probably the hardest thing. We definitely want to sell a lot of records and if it's not this one well we hope for the next one. But the goal is to sell a lot of records and to make a cool record. That's the main thing, to make a cool record. But then if it's just for us, that's cool, but we definitely want to sell. We want to get bigger and do more tours.

 

Do you think that will be the answer to selling more? Going out and doing a tour where you might not actually make money, but there will be more people going out and picking up the album after the fact?

You mean in the US?

Yeah, the US or North America in general.

Yeah, as a matter of fact that's what we aim to do. We're gonna go play the Milwaukee Metalfest August 10. Then we are gonna go out after that for 1-2 weeks through the Midwest and the East. We're gonna go out with the revamped lineup of Helstar and I'm not sure what's going on if it's gonna be Pain of Salvation or Reign of Terror on the bill. Jacob's Dream were going to be on it but they cancelled it just a couple days ago.

 

I've read some people say that if BOOK OF THE DEAD doesn't sell as much as, for example, HammerFall in the US, then Nuclear Blast won't be too happy to keep you guys on. Is there any truth to this or do you have a longer term contract with them so it doesn't matter if you crack the US market right away?!?!

Yeah, well I don't know anything about that. It's not like it could not be possible though you know? As far as the US goes, I don't think that anything we do would really bear on the US because they really don't expect much out of the US (in terms of sales). As far as the European office (of Nuclear Blast), they definitely expect a lot in terms of sales out in Europe. That would be the determining factor. But, if we don't play with them then we will make a record for someone else.

 

So you're in it for the long hall regardless of if you get more successful then you are right now? Because you did say you'd "KILL YOURSELF" if it didn't sell well!!! (laughter) So if it sells as well as the last one will you still be content?

We'll definitely make another record. To be honest, I'd make music for free just for myself no matter what because I like to do that. So it's definitely like a long haul thing. Obviously we want to be as successful as possible but making music is just something that we have to do so we'll do it whether it's paid for or not.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about the creative process for Steel Prophet and basically how you guys write the songs and put the lyrics together - if it's done in a band situation or you bring things to the band and work them out together…..that sort of thing.

Yeah, basically I get test tubes out and I mix up some chemicals and then a song just appears man. It foams up out of the beaker! (laughter) So, it's a good process.

Right on. Well, you better patent that chemical combination or something.

Yeah, we just try a variety of different ways of going about it. A lot of times somebody comes up with an idea and brings a riff in or pretty much brings in a complete song. It could work any way. Sometimes it's been a lyric first and the music is worked around that but usually it's the music is there then the lyrics go. Basically, wherever the idea starts, we'll start rehearsing it and everybody will make comments and give feedback or a suggestion and it'll just change into the final product. So everybody makes their suggestions like "Oh lets change this note here in this riff" or "lets play this riff a little bit longer" - or shorter. Or maybe they suggest the song needs another section, a bridge to get from one part to another. Everybody will have their 2 cents and of course I listen to none of it…

What do you mean you listen to none of it? (note: Yes Steve's attempt at humor blew right over me…)

Their 2 cents.

You dictator! (laughs) It's "My way or the highway"?

Naww….well I tried to make a joke and you didn't get it (laughs) so let's move on.

Whooshhhhhhh……………


I assume you have in mind some of the ideas of things you would like to do on your next couple of albums. Do you plan out songs ahead of time or do you sit down a little before recording and write the songs?

Well that's an interesting question. A lot of times we kind of plot out like a vague general idea of what the next album will be like. Then we start writing stuff to go along with that. Sometimes it's like an album is almost like a puzzle. Since we like variety, if we started writing and kept on coming up with just 10 great songs but then we find they are all the same tempo or style - that wouldn't be what we would want. A lot of times we think like we've written 3-4 pretty fast ones so why don't we concentrate on something of a different tempo…maybe something slow or doom. Or maybe we don't have enough fast ones so we write something REALLY fast like "Phobia" or something. We kind of vaguely think of it like that. We'll even plot, for instance DARK HALLUCINATIONS was pretty progressive and before we stated the next album we already knew we wanted it to be faster and more melodic. So then you got MESSIAH which was like that. After that album was done it was like "well we kind of overdid it on the speed on that one with too much fast double bass so lets cut back and not do so much of that on the next album". Now that we've finished BOOK OF THE DEAD we're already thinking we wanna kick up the speed and make another fast album. So we kind of vary back an forth between like progressive, then a wide variety, then go for a fast album. It seems like every other album is like that. It's like you're never really satisfied.

 

Steve KachinskyI've read a little about side type projects that you do. Do you get to express an influence of yours that you do not get to express within Steel Prophet?

Yeah that's possible. Basically I get to express at least a little bit of everything within Steel Prophet. If you just look at it: we've thrown in the odd bit of death and black metal type of thing; the psychedelic things here and there; the doom; we've even had like on "Mysteries of Iniquity " (from the MESSIAH album) a be-bop / jazz beat; we also then can use the progressive keyboards that I like from progressive rock - we put them there in small doses. Sometimes I wouldn't mind something that was a little more 70s rock or something like that or just doing something that is just one particular style and exploring that a lot more. But I am pretty satisfied just throwing a lot of different tings, in small amounts, into the Steel Prophet mix.

 

I know over the years Steel Prophet has had a few member changes and I know you stay in contact with some of those guys but have you ever considered working with any of them in a side project type of deal?

Yeah. I would do that. It hasn't been anything I've really thought of but Steel Prophet takes a lot of my time for me. If something was already kind of going and they just needed someone to come in and help then that would be one thing. But, to do a new project where I'd have to initiate it myself, it takes a lot of work - especially with what I'm already doing. But I definitely wouldn't mind working with Horacio Colmenares again or Kevin Cafferty (ed. note: temporary member who played the drums on MESSIAH) or JT. There are definitely some older band members that would be fun to work with again.

 

With regards to your playing style, how would you compare your playing style to the other guitar player in the band, Jim?

Well, I'd say Jim can play a lot better than I can. He has a lot more dexterity with speed and picking and fingering patterns and stuff like that. In a way he's a more schooled guitarist although I am pretty well schooled as well - in theory and that sort of thing. It's just he's better at it in pratical application. The playing that he does tends to be more notey but it's still very melodic and there is still a lot of feeling in it. What I kinda do is, I like to play slower passages and kind of go for a texture and tone and vibrato. I like to do something that is odd. I like to do the phrasing you don't expect. I think the two styles work really good together because I'm not doing his trip and he's not doing mine. We're bringing two different things to the lead guitar scenario.

 

In terms of your background were you guys pretty much weaned on the same types of players and styles?

To a degree. We've got certain players in common and certain bands. He likes a huge variety of stuff like Jazz, Classical, Black/Death Metal, Classic Metal, Rock and I like all those things too. We don't always necessarily like the same bands in those genres but we are both open minded to different styles and we try to get stuff out of those styles and add it to our own playing.

 

Do you see Steel Prophet as a combination of those things? You do manage to incorporate, like you were saying earlier, a lot of influences even those that are not just metal and you can't just simply say Steel Prophet are just a power metal band.

Yeah.

What would you label it or would you prefer to stay away from the labeling and just say it's metal?

It's tough. To include everything we do and draw on would have this huge 15-word label. Power Metal kind of works in a way but most people think of European sounding Helloween influenced music now when they talk about power metal. That's not us. If you just want to call it metal then it definitely falls into that category.

 

A couple of questions regarding touring. I know you did a tour with Lafey last year. Did that tour open up more doors for you guys in Germany or in Europe in general?

I don't know. It depended on all the acts bringing in a certain amount of people. Lafey, Steel Prophet and Angel Dust, depending on which city you're in, are all pretty much on the same level. In some cities, one band was more popular than another even though Lafey was definitely the headliners for the tour, they went on last. It's really hard to say how many Lefay or Angel Dust fans we made into Steel Prophet fans but for sure it was good to go over there and play and to play in front of their audience and play for our fans…to just keep the ball rolling. To let the Europeans know that we're there, we have a live presence and we'll be back again.

 

Band Photo
L-R: Steve Kachinsky (Guitars) Vince Dennis (Bass) Karl Rosqvist (Drums)
Jim Williams (Guitars) Rick Mythiasin (Vocals)

 

You had a CD release party I believe just a few days ago which you played with Agent Steel.

Yup, Agent Steel, Cage, Onward and New Eden.

Cool, so how did the show go?

It was great, man. It was a blast. All of those bands, except for Onward who we just met that night, are friends. We've all played shows and stuff together and we have even played in bands together, shared members…and we all get along. So it was a lot of fun. It was like "hey we're having a CD release party, do you guys want to play?" And everybody was down with it. So we played, had a good crowd and everybody was having fun.

 

Do you get to pull a lot of people to a Heavy Metal show like that in your area?

Pretty much any time we throw a bill with us and Agent Steel, it's generally gonna draw 300 to 400 people. Which in a city of 8 million is not that much. But considering what it is, it's pretty good.

 

So if you could choose a dream band to go on tour with who would you pick?

Well, there's probably two answers. There's the band that I like the best and the band that I think could do the most for me. [By showing you to new people?]. Yeah. If we could play for Iron Maiden or Judas Priest or Halford or something like that, that would be the most advantageous for us. And of course I love those bands so it would be like a thrill too. But, if I could just think of a band that I would probably want to hear night after night pick to just check out, it would probably be something like Solitude Aeturnus or something. [Really?] Yeah, I just love those guys man.

I thought you were gonna pick something "evil" like K**n or something. Not because you like them, but because they have a lot of fans (AKA Sheep) to expose that audience to some REAL metal for a change.

That's a good idea too, if you put it that way. Of course, I would also love to just go on tour with our buddies like Agent Steel or something because it would be like a rolling party.

 

By the way, did they call themselves Agent Steel when they played with you or were they going under the name Order of the Illuminati?

Yeah, the (gag) Order of the Illuminati. The name is a little bit too much, man. I'm sure you know about their problem with John Cyriis?

Yeah, I've read the stuff about that and it's pretty strange.

Oh yeah, it's not like he had Agent Steel going and they had the name too. It was like, he was doing nothing, and couldn't be bothered to do anything with Agent Steel. But just because those guys have it, he wants to just punish them or something. I probably shouldn't say anything because he might try to sue me ya know? (laughs).

 

Ok, let's quit while we're ahead….
Regarding touring, you don't have any concrete plans as far as North America is concerned because I heard something about a bill that fell apart with you and HammerFall. That would have been a killer tour!

Yeah, it was us, HammerFall and Soilwork. That would have been a killer bill. But, HammerFall didn't want to do it. I dunno, it's not something they were interested in at this point.

Well, their loss.

Yeah, man. They got a fairly new record, RENEGADE, out…and... [they haven't played over here for that album]. Yeah they did the Death tour which was 2-3 years ago. It's like, If you don't tour then your fans will forget about you.

One thing that blows me away is you see a band like HammerFall playing in Chile, Urguary, Chile, Argentina, why they can't come just a bit further north is perplexing.

Yeah, this tour would have been real easy for them to do. It was a really good offer, but, I dunno, I guess they weren't in the mood for it. So unfortunately that fell through but now what we're gonna go out with Helstar. That will be a week or two. We're doing the Milwaukee Metalfest, the Powermad Festival on the east coast.

Any idea if you will be touring in Canada or not this year?

No idea right now.

 

Regarding the Internet. You have a really cool website at I.am/steelprophet. Who does your site and have you found your site to be an excellent marketing tool, does it bring you more fans?

Our webmaster is a guy named Alex Christianson who put a lot of work into it. He works really close with me and when I send him information and news he gets it up there right away. Which is really cool because it keeps it fresh. That's the main thing of having a website - to give fans instant access to the latest information. As far as marketing, it's always really hard to figure out where your fans are coming from and hearing about you first because there are so many sources. There's CD samplers, advertising, word of mouth, the web, compilation and tribute discs, etc. I'm not sure where the bulk of our fans are coming from but I'm sure that's one piece of the puzzle that we definitely want to keep going because it's definitely helping. There's our stuff in MP3 format and it's there and whoever just hears about us if they want to look it up and find out all they need to know about us and make a decision on if they are interested in our band or not.

 

On another subject, and I don't know if you would prefer if I skip over this question or not, but if you don't mind hopefully you can fill me in. This is something I've read a little about but I don't know the full story and it has to do with the time your bass player, Vince, was shot. What is the story behind that?

He wasn't the only one! Our first singer was stabbed too, man. The knife went in between the heart and the lung - just a little space between the two. Basically he narrowly escaped death. It was all just at a party and some dude didn't like him because he was into metal. They ended up fighting and it turned into that. Anyways, that is that story, you asked about Vince. Well Vince…ah…….the story is....….he was just kicking back with his wife when two guys knocked on the door and they tried to gain entrance into the house with the plan to rape his wife. He was asleep in the bedroom at the time but he heard the commotion so he ran out. The guys weren't prepared for…they were prepared for a helpless victim, but not anybody else. They saw him and they shot him and they ran away. They actually found the guys, they went to trial and they are serving time now. [Good, proper place for them] Yeah definitely.

So how long ago was this, was it years ago?

To be honest dude, it was right after we did the INTO THE VOID album. We had been just listening to the mixes like a few hours before he went home and then he got shot.

Did this change his or even your opinion on the U.S. gun laws and your right to bear arms?

Well I can't say it changed my mind. People say its not guns that kill people its people that kill people. But I say, it's a lot fucking easier to kill people with guns then it is with knives or something else, man. If somebody comes at you with a knife, you've got a lot more chance of fighting him off and having a chance. But a gun, from five feet away from you, you don't have any chance and the dude just fires it into you and that's the end of it. I just think that people don't really need their guns. They are only good for one thing, and that's just hurting people…unless you live on a farm or some place far away and you got bears or something else like that which you have to protect yourself from. But besides that, I don't see a particular need for guns.

So how badly was he hurt when he was shot?

Well he was critical, dude. He's missing ½ a lung on one side to this day. It makes you wonder how he has so much energy on stage. But, it took him a long time for him to recover. He was short of breath for a long time.

Did it inspire any songs or anything or you probably don't want to remember something like that?

It's a weird thing. It's almost like you just want to forget that whole thing. He moved out of his apartment. Him and his wife couldn't even bear to go back and collect their things from there. It's just a pretty bad situation.

 

OK, let's change to a happier subject and that is to your album that came out before BOOK OF THE DEAD and that is GENESIS. Can you tell me a little bit about the Genesis album? I believe all the songs were taken from previous tributes or cover albums you were on. The question I had about it is, does this close the chapter on your history of doing quite a few tribute/cover songs?

Yeah. The thing is, you can only cover your favorite bands for so long until you run out of favorite bands. With like the 13th cover song we had done in the last couple years…ahhh….you know, basically we ran out of favorite bands even on a couple of those that we did. We just did them because we were asked to. Like our A&R man really wanted us to do a couple of them. So we were just like, "ok" and we picked the best song we liked by the band. It's one thing with our hero's like Iron Maiden, Priest, Ronnie James Dio….that's one thing. But when you start covering bands that you are not so much into, it starts losing some of it's luster. I'd say that we are pretty much finished with doing that. We would still like to do something for Rush, Queen, Blue Oyster Cult and Led Zeppelin if something ever came up and somebody asked us. But other then that, those are like, that's the end of it right there. So yeah you were right, all the stuff was taken from previous stuff except for the Simple Minds cover "Don't You Forget About Me."

That's right and we still got that track online here that you asked us to put up when it was recorded!!

You still got that there? Cool! Yeah I remember, you didn't like it too much right? (laughs)

Ummm….well it was OK, but I was thinking - for a new/prospective fan, it might scare some people away. That's why I asked you if we could add one other one with it. (laughs).

Yeah, it's like one of those songs that we bear the least resemblance to. We bear a certain resemblance to Maiden and Priest and that kinda thing. But when you do something that is pretty much completely different from what you usually do, I think you get more of a chance to be creative with it. Whereas with covering Maiden and Priest you really can't do it any better then what they already did…you can try to do something, but with something else…

You can EASILY improve on the Simple Minds.

I hope so!!

(Laughter)

 

Is there any other news or things you would like for me to pass on to people regarding Steel Prophet?

Well there is Milwaukee, the tour coming up. Let's see that about it I think we covered it all.

Ok, cool thanks again for your time and all the best.

Thanks, talk to you again.


Thanks to Nuclear Blast, Craig, The Baron and of course to
Steve and Steel Prophet for another great METAL album!!

Read my past interview with Steve from May, 2000

CD Reviews
- Messiah
- Book of the Dead


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This page last updated on:
Saturday, November 17, 2001