Heart of Steel: Interviews

Tiwanaku Interview With

Interview By EvilG

I've read the bio, so I know where the band name Tiwanaku comes from, but for the benefit of our readers, please tell us what is means to you, why you choose it, and how in the world did you come across that name?

Tiwanaku (tee-wa-na-koo), also spelled Tiahuanaco, lies in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia near the Southern Peruvian border. There have been mixed reports on how old this site actually is. I tend to believe the report that it is about 17000 years old!! Yes that's older than they say Stonehenge is which makes Tiwanaku the oldest known site still standing in the world. This ancient site is rumored to have been a focal point for the arrival of extraterrestrials thousands of years ago on this planet. There is also rumors that these ancient visitors are the ancestors of man. The main focal point of this tremendous city is a monolith called "The Gateway to the Sun". Ancient legends tell tales that this gateway was used as a door for transportation to other dimensions and realms.

There is a bunch of information out there about this killer location that we have named our band after!! To me it just seemed a fitting name for the band!! Since I was a kid, and now, I have loved to read, write, and watch about ancient archeological sites, UFO, strange phenomena, religious hoaxes, Sci-fi and Sci-fact stuff. I am also one that is searching for the true origin of the human race. Yeah I know good luck right!!?? HAHA! But all of this stuff will intrigue me until the day I die!! This is a very fitting name for the band due to our song topics and background.



Emo, how did you first meet up with Wade Black and where did you first hear Wade's singing?

Wade and I met on a sort of fluke thing from my standpoint. I was sort of looking around for something else to do because from my past experiences I knew at that time that Nocturnus was headed for the exit door, and at the same time I was looking at a drummer that wanted to tryout for Nocturnus, yes still knowing that the band was on its way out. HAHA! We ended up meeting through the drummer and his musician buddies. The guys wanted to tryout for Wade's solo project and I figured what the hell. When Wade walked in the room to hear us the first thing out of his mouth was "Who was the one in Nocturnus?" Right then I knew we were going to hit it off. I played the song Astronomica with the rest of the guys a few times and Wade didn't seem very impressed with the group's performance. Right then everyone went to sit down and talk and I ended up sitting there and rippin' up some bass and the next thing you knew Wade and I were trading phone numbers. The rest of the guys weren't good boogers that stuck to the wall!! HAHAHHA! End of story.



Wade, what was the first meeting with Emo like? Was it a casual meeting over a coffee kinda thing, or was it a musical meeting where you actually worked on ideas to see if your styles would mesh together?

It was a musical meeting. I was looking for musicians for a solo project. Emo and a few guys were auditioning for spots on it. Emo was the focus of my being there that night. When I walked in the room the first thing out of my mouth was "Which one of you guys was in Nocturnus?" After that we stuck together like glue.



Wade, did you know of Emo's work with Nocturnus and what was your initial reaction to the idea of combining your different styles in a two vocal band?

Yes I knew about Emo. The reason we got together, at first, wasn't to put together Tiwanaku. But after we talked about music a lot we realized that we both had a passion for mixing the two powerful vocal styles together.



Wade, what is your opinion on death metal? It has been argued that most  vocals in death metal bands are one-dimensional, so often "singers" don't listen to a lot of that style....

I think that overall I like the aggression of the death metal vocals and style of music. The heaviness brings out the heavy in me. There are a lot of death metal singers that tend to be the same. We like to mix it up and push the envelope.



Wade, what are some of your favorite death metal and non-death metal bands/CD's?

For death metal bands I like Death, Morbid Angel, and Hate Eternal are pretty cool too! As far as non-death bands I like Jorn Lande, Elegy, Shadows Fall, Dimmu Borgir, and Hollenthon and tons more.



Emo, being known for being a death metal dude...what inspired you to even want to incorporate a Halford-esque vocalist into the mix?

Well to be honest with you I am into all aspects of metal!! Well with the exception of nu-metal. I really don't care for it. Well Disturbed is kind of cool I guess. I grew up on Priest, Maiden, and many others. I have always wanted to work with a singer that has the power of Wade. I saw Wade "back in the day" with an old band of his called "Lucian Blaque". I looked at my ole lady that I had at the time and said that I would like to play with that dude!! I have wanted to do a dual vocal thing, the way we do, for a long, long time!! So when the two of us got together it seemed only fitting that we do this. Powerful vocals + powerful vocals = MEGAPOWERFUL vocals!! We work and write very well together and will keep doing so. So all of you Wade Black haters/non-believers can go to hell with your comments about him not being able to stay in a band. HAHA!



Emo, what are some of your favorite death metal and non death metal metal bands/albums?

Well let's see....

Death metal: 
Atheist - A Questionable Presence/Elements
Cynic - Focus
Death - Scream Bloody Gore/Individual Thought Patterns/Sound of Perseverance
Pestilence - Testimony of the Ancients/Spheres
Napalm Death - Harmony Corruption
Messhuggah - Chaosphere
Nile - Black Seeds of Vengeance. 

And fucking tons more!!

Black Metal:
Bathory (The true innovator of the Black Metal sound! Hats off to you man!!)
Dimmu Borgir - All albums
Hollenthon - With Vilest of worms to Dwell (Hails to Martin!!)
Borknagar (Hails to Asgeir!!)
Kalmah - All albums, and many more.

Judas Priest - Screaming for motherfucking Vengeance (and all Priest records)
Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind/Number of the Beast(& of course all Maiden records)
Yngwie Malmsteen
Queensryche - Rage for Order (Hails to Neil Kernon on the production!!)
Black Sabbath (The true innovators of metal!)
Jason Becker
Stuart Hamm
Steve Vai
Voivod - Nothingface (yes I know they have a punk influence!)

Man there are so many that I love that I could fill up the whole interview with them!!

Rock n Roll:
Van Halen (DLR days)
Faith no More (all albums). 

And many more!!

Although you do have a different twist on metal, and Tiwanaku is clearly not a generic band, what are your thoughts on other bands that have combined styles? For example....

1. Have you heard the new CAGE CD entitled "Darker than Black"? The vocals on there switch between the Halford-like vocal approach mixed with some black metal vocals.

Wade: No I haven't heard them yet!! I will have to check them out.

Emo: Sorry I haven't heard them yet either. I'll take a look for them around the net and see if I can find some samples.

2. Vintersorg: mixes Swedish folk elements and clean vocals with black metal.

Wade: I have heard it and I think it's cool. I think Borknagar tends to strike more of the vein in which I am looking for though.

Emo: I like Vintersorg a lot!! Very cool stuff and great song writing and vocals!!! He also has a very distinct sound in his voice. Good stuff!!!!

3. Lastly, and perhaps(?) the one that is closer to your vocal mix might be Rob Halford's band Fight with the song "Nailed To The Gun" which mixes Rob's excellent vocals with a backing death metal vocal style.

Wade: I love that fucking song!! Every time I play that song I almost drive off the road!! HAHAHHA! Halford is by far thee best metal vocalist PERIOD!! Hats off to you Rob!!!!

Emo: I am a big fan of that whole fucking kick ass album!! Got the CD right here and its worn down to the bone with all the meat falling off!!!! HAHA! Fuckin' bad ass CD!!! Rob is the fucking king!! No denying that!!!!!!!!! I like the sound he found in those guys too!!



Were any of these inspirations for what you've been doing or are there others?

Man I must say that there is so many bands that have inspired me over the years!! It's all in what songs or bands move you emotionally!! It's really hard to say where all this crazy shit has come from!! HAHA! I listen to a lot of different music so you never know the details of where it all comes from.



What kind of metal would you call Tiwanaku or do you thrive on defying classification?

I think that Tiwanaku is everything that we were brought up on. It's a gumbo of everything that we like in metal. It all belongs together! I think that you could call us a progressive, death, melodic, metal mixture that we hope everybody digs!!

For me it's hard to classify this. I mean like Wade said it's a gumbo of metal. Oh cool! Here you go for a new classification!! Gumbo Metal!!



Emo, did you write all the songs yourself and then have Wade add his vocals into the mix after?

Well for the most part, yes. The music for "Illusion" was written beforehand and then Wade and I both wrote the lyrics and vocal throws. "Magnacore" was completely finished and we just found a healthy medium to incorporate Wades voice into the song. "Shockwaves", musically, was written, and half of the lyrics. Wade added in some lyrics and vocal throws to finish it off. "What If" was an almost complete collaboration of Wade and I both. I came up with the riffs and we arranged them together. Then we wrote the lyrics together as well.



Emo, did you try to write songs that were not death metal sounding, or is the idea to have death metal as a foundation for this band and have the vocals be the place where most of the experimentation is done?

Well to be honest the songs were written to be heavy, atmospheric, and technical. I come from a more death background so naturally they are going to be a bit more death metal sounding. What if was written to show that we are capable of incorporating in other styles to the death metal base. We will continue to write with all aspects of writing in mind. For the most part there really is no plan behind the writing process other than I sit down with whatever instrument I have the inspiration to play at the moment and just start playing. When I hear something I like I either try to perfect it to my liking or Wade and I will sit together and workout what we both have in our heads. We bounce a lot of ideas off of each other!! I guess it's all in how we decide to approach things that day. Of course there is a time, when we try to improve on the songs, before recording them. I'm most positive that there will be a small variance in the four songs on this demo when they finally make it to an album.



How did you hook up with drummer Richard Christy and how did he manage to squeeze time in to be in yet another band? :)

I was performing with Rick in Orlando for his solo album (Until the Bitter End). Emo came along with me for the ride and when he met Richard he asked him if he was interested in playing for Tiwanaku. Richard was totally into it from the get go!

He is one hell of a busy guy!!! That's fow show bayBUH!!! HAHAHA! I don't know how he manages to play in so many bands but I am damn glad that he does!!! Hails to Ricardo Montelbon and 18-packs of Miller Lite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


How long did it take to write and then record the 4 songs that are on the promo CD?

Actually it was a pretty elongated process. For the most part, most of the music was written over a long period of time. Plus when I took over on rhythm guitar it took sometime for me to get my chops back up to par to where they were worthy enough to record. But the recording took around four months off and on. There were one and two week periods, at times, that we could not get in here to record some stuff due to busy work and family schedules. If we would have had everything completely written and had a week or two with nothing else to do we would have had it recorded and done in no time. I am glad we took our time to do it though. I hate rushing!! Plus some of the writing (like some of the lyrics and keyboards) were done throughout the recording process.



Did you record this demo yourselves in your own studio? Is so, can you tell us what kind of gear you used?

The drums were recorded at Audio Hammer studios in Orlando. Then we brought the tracks to my home studio here and recorded the rest. Rick recorded the solos at his place in Orlando and then sent me back the tracks to fly into the mix. We used an IBM based setup with Cool Edit Pro and tons of killer plug-ins. A Fostex VF-16 hard disk recorder. Various microphones like a shure beta 57, shure 48 and 58, and a pretty good condenser mic. For the guitars I used an LTD 7 string and a Traynor amp was used!! You say Traynor? So did I until I heard what came out of it!! HAHA! For bass I used my Ampeg rig and my headless five stringer. And the keyboard was a Korg keyboard. We are looking to upgrade the rig to a Mac and pro tools rig very soon for newer recordings!!



Were only the 4 songs recorded, or are there more that are being worked on?

Yes the four songs were the only recorded at that time. We have been working on more material as well as material for our progressive metal band Leash Law.



What kind of reaction have you been getting from the demo from the press and from labels?

The overall general reaction has been good! Some of the stuff we have been hearing about the vocal mix has been mixed and has thrown people for a loop. You definitely need to hear something like this mixture of music a few times before you can actually get a grip on what we are trying to accomplish. Some labels are not willing to take on something as experimental as Tiwanaku. We are mad scientists at work!!! AHAHAHAHHAHAAAAAAAA!!!



If a label doesn't offer a recording contract or something similar, will you independently release a full length CD anyway?

Most definitely!! But I must say that we do this music for ourselves and we are truly grateful for the people that have a good ear and that dig heavy music!!

Fuck yeah whatever it takes man!! Whether we have to send it through mp3 or find distribution or whatever!! We feel strongly that this band has the ability to contend with the best of 'em!!! Tiwanaku must be heard!!!!!!!!!!!! \m/



What is the timetable for releasing a full length, or is there one?

There is no timetable. You can't put a timetable on creative expression!! HAHA! No really we hope to have something out as soon as we can without rushing things!!



Have Tiwanaku ever played live or do you plan to?

Live play is inevitable. It's like what we do n' stuff.

Tiwanaku hasn't seen the stage yet but I promise you that we will!! It's what we live for!! The shows are what it's all about!!!



Emo, you play both bass and rhythm guitar on the album - what do you prefer and what would you play live?

It all depends on the day and how I am feeling as to what I prefer to play. Sometimes it's keyboards instead of either for days on end!! For live situations I will be playing bass and singing for Tiwanaku. For Leash Law I will be playing guitar and possibly some back up vocals live. Writing music is a whole different story though. I mainly will come up with a guitar riff or two, or three, or more haha! Then I will add in the bass, keys, or vocals.



Rick Renstrom plays all the lead guitars on the demo, will he be playing on the full length if it's recorded, and is there a chance he might play live shows with you if they come up?

Yes he will!! We have full cooperation from the Renstrom camp!! Rick has joined Tiwanaku and we are very happy to have him!!! He's da mans!!!

Fuck yeah and he did a fucking awesome job on it too! Rick has joined Tiwanaku and is a full-time member of the band!! Glad to have you Rick!!!!



How did you get Rick Renstrom to be a part of this? Was he a friend of yours or did you just call him up and ask him?

I met Rick at a show where his other band Rob Rock was opening for Savatage. Rick asked me to sing on his solo album (Until the Bitter End). I listened to a couple songs and I agreed to one of them. When we were recording the song we had spoken previously about doing something together, which is now what you would call Leash Law.



Emo, what is the status of Nocturnus? Is the band 100% dead, any chance of a return?

As far as I know Nocturnus is completely out of gas. I do not see another return of the band. If there is it will not be with me. There is talk of a DVD release but I haven't heard anything super solid on that so don't mark my words on that.



Emo, do you still talk to the guys from Nocturnus?

Yes everybody but Mike Davis. We obviously had a falling out when he left Tiwanaku. Everyone else I still talk on the phone with every once in a while. I have put that whole situation behind me now though. I am looking towards the future now that's for sure.



I also read that you are both in another band called Leash Law (www.geocities.com/leashlaw2003). I didn't know that until recently and I admit it seems confusing since that band contains the same members as Tiwanaku (plus a couple others).

It may be confusing to some but in time people will understand why we have two bands. It's two different sources that we draw the music from for both bands. There are elements that you will find in both bands because Wade is singing in both bands. But I do not sing in Leash Law. It would not be fitting. If there is a chance that I will do any vocals for Leash Law they will be clean back up vocals only. Also for me in Tiwanaku I am playing bass and in Leash Law I am playing guitar. The source that Leash Law comes from is all of our general metal/prog influences. I grew up on many different kinds of music. Mainly metal though. I love metal!! Period! Well with the exception of some bullshit Limp BizKunt Nu-Metal. I am not into rap and metal being together at all. It doesn't work for me. But to get back to what's important!! HAHA! The source that we pull our Tiwanaku creations out of is of course the aggressive pissed off side of us!



So what's the deal with that and will both bands become one or will there be two? What band came first?

Tiwanaku came first but Leash Law was not far behind. Tiwanaku is Emo and my creation and Leash Law is Rick and my creation. We all contribute to both bands though. Everyone contributes to each other in these groups. There is no "I" in team. Both of the bands are completely unique from each other. They will never become one band. There's other members in both bands that are not the four core members. Let's not forget Steve Elders on bass in Leash Law and Mark Kozlowski on guitar for Tiwanaku.



Why are there two bands (different style I assume from hearing the "Fight" song on the website which sounds more like tradition/power metal) So will it be just one singer in Leash Law? etc. etc....

Yes other than back up vocals there will only be one singer in Leash Law. Please don't assume that the two bands are the same. They truly assume two different identities. It just worked out this way that the four of us are in two bands together. Isn't it funny how things work themselves out??



Emo, when Nocturnus broke up weren't you and Mike Davis planning on sticking together and hooking up with Wade? I'd read about that, but I didn't hear about what happened so that Mike is now not involved with either Tiwanaku or Leash Law?

Yes Mike was involved in Tiwanaku in the beginning but as you can see now he has left. It didn't last long at all. Mike never was really into the dual vocal idea to begin with and never even gave it a chance to be honest with you. Nothing against Mike for choosing to leave but I think it was the best thing for everyone involved. He will be missed but like they say the show must go on. We wish him all the best!! He was never involved with Leash Law.



Wade...hmm...time for a controversial question hehe!
Some people have made critical comments about how you were a member of Crimson Glory...then the band folded. There you were a member of Seven Witches and then you left the band...are these "one album fly by's" a result of your personality or has it been just bad luck?

Everybody has to have levels that they go by when it comes to their careers. It just happens that Crimson Glory and Seven Witches ended up being my stepping stones. I always try to do things to make myself better. Hails to the past and good luck to the future of metal!! Just because things didn't work out for me in those two bands doesn't mean I don't have more to say or do professionally.



Wade, without dwelling too long on this, can you tell us why you left Crimson Glory and what do you think of the recent news from their camp about Midnight coming back...did it surprise you that they are doing that and not asking you back for another album?

The situation in that band became suddenly one sided and I felt like I wasn't a part of the band. I appreciate the chance to perform on Astronomica and do the tour. Shit happens and you move on to the next square. I hope that Midnight does come back. It would be good for CG fans!!!


Wade Black on stage wearing some
killer Metal-Rules.com swag :-)


Wade, here's the last one about band departures...what happened with Seven Witches (did the departure have something to do with you not wanting to tour?) and do you still have any kind of a friendship with Jack Frost? Xiled to Infinity and One was an excellent album, and although the band has redeemed themselves with their new album, I was disappointed to see you leave.

No it wasn't that I didn't want to tour. I love touring and being inspired in my career!! It's part of my life. Jack and I didn't get along. He didn't want to sign any contractual agreements or negotiate with me and its just all about Jack Frost isn't it really?? HAHA! All the business dealings were shady and I never felt like a part of that band either.

Wade, were you happy with the support and promotion done by the label for that CD?

On Noise Records part yes, and the only reason I finished the Annihilator tour was because of Noise Records' professionalism.



Wade, have you heard the new Seven Witches CD (Passage to the Other Side) by the way? If so what are you thoughts on it?

I haven't heard it yet.



Wade, not long ago we heard you were working on a solo album called Metal Chameleon?!? What happened with that, did it turn into Leash Law?




Here are some random metal questions so people can get a feel for where you're coming from...

What do you think was the most important period (year?) for heavy metal and briefly, why?

That would be the time period of when it was invented. The 70's!!! The time that Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden came to be.


If you had to rate the following vocalists, what would you give them out of 10?

Emo: Fuck I hate rating bands or artists!! HAHA! No problem though!! Its only opinion HAHAH! I guess people have the right to have it whether people like it or not!!

1. Rob Halford (Priest) Wade 10 Emo 10
2. Bruce Dickinson (Maiden) Wade 10 Emo 10
3. Ronnie James Dio (Dio) Wade 9 Emo 9.5
4. David Vincent (ex-Morbid Angel) Wade 7 Emo 8
5. Stephen Pearcy (ex-Ratt) WHEW!!
6. Glen Benton (Deicide) Wade 9 Emo 10
7. Chris Barnes (6 ft. under, ex-Cannibal Corpse) Wade 5 Emo 6
8. Ralph Scheepers (Primal Fear, ex-Gamma Ray) Wade 7 Emo 8
9. David Lee Roth (Van Halen) Wade 10 Emo 10
10. Midnight (Crimson Glory) Wade 7 Emo 7
11. James Rivera (Seven Witches, ex: Destiny's End, Helstar, etc.) Wade 5.75 Emo 8
12. Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius) Wade 5 Emo 6
13. Sean Peck (Cage) ?????????
14. Bobby "Blitz" (Overkill) Wade 5 Emo 5 EEEEEEEEEEElimination!!
15. Burton Bell (Fear Factory) Wade 7 Emo 8


What has being in this business taught you the most about people and life in general?

Man I could make this answer a book!!! HAHHA! I have learned a lot about people just from everyday life as everyone does and from being in this business. Just like in any situation there are good things and bad things. People are the same way. Unfortunately there seem to be more bad than good!! The business is the part of this is the part that can ruin a musician's desire to want to do this!! I have seen it happen too many times!! People learn what the business entails and say "fuck this shit!!" Also there are no fucking guarantees in life!!! None!! Make the best with what you have and don't dwell on negative bullshit!



Wade, I've heard you have your own business. I know this is off topic but I'd be interested to know what it's about and to know what you do outside of metal.

Yes I am business partners with my Dad. We buy, sell, recondition, and detail automobiles. Besides my wife, three kids, 2 dogs, and 2 bands there's no room for anything else!!



What is on the horizon for both Leash Law and Tiwanaku?

Write, practice, record, tour, promo, write, practice, record, tour, promo, repeat that a few times!!!

We are going to do what we can to get this music out there!! We must continue to write, write, write!! Now that the Tiwanaku demo is out there and we are shopping for a deal for the band the concentration is now on Leash Law. We hope to have some good news about Leash Law by the end of next week. Our fingers are crossed!!! Cross yours for us ok!!! ;)



If you have any closing comments for our readers here's your place to rant....

I really super appreciate all the support from all of you crazy metal-heads our there over the years. Stay hard, fuckin rock on and METAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!!

Everybody please be sure to go check out three of the Tiwanaku demo songs at artists.mp3s.com/artists/630/tiwanakuband.html. And also you can see the Leash Law temp website and hear a sample on there too!! www.geocities.com/leashlaw2003/

Also I would like to thank you, EvilG, at metal-rules and and Brandon at www.fightforrock.com and everyone who has pitched in or helped both bands in the past and who will also continue to help us in the future, you know who you are!! Also a big horns up as high as I can reach in the air to all the old fans of Nocturnus for their support and of course to the new fans of Tiwanaku and Leash Law!! FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!! Stay true to your roots and to what you all love to do!!!

Read our review of Twanaku's 4-song promo CD