Vocalist Noah Robinson
***Interview By Lord of The Wasteland
It’s been a long, hard road for Oklahoma’s Bleed The Sky, to say the least. Financial and personal disasters, almost a complete overhaul of the band’s lineup and various other mishaps seem to have plagued the group endlessly since their debut album, PARADIGM IN ENTROPY, was released back in 2005. Undoubtedly, these challenges have made the band stronger and clearly tested their will to survive. PARADIGM IN ENTROPY showcased a young, inexperienced band whose grasp on their own identity left a bad taste in this writer’s mouth.
Skip ahead to 2008, though, and Bleed The Sky has come roaring back with a vengeance on their new CD, MURDER THE DANCE. A blistering stab at modern metal, MURDER THE DANCE finds easy-on the-ear melodies fighting for space with staccato, Meshuggah-like riffs and experimental ambient pieces. Championing the new band makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, not just because of the obstacles the band has faced and overcome, but because of the wildly divergent opinion I have of MURDER THE DANCE versus PARADIGM IN ENTROPY (*HINT: One could say PARADIGM is not one of my favourite CDs!).
I recently interviewed vocalist Noah Robinson—one of only two members remaining from the six featured on PARADIGM IN ENTROPY. Robinson is frank in his answers as the band begins the cycle to promote MURDER THE DANCE, which hit stores back on June 10th. Kudos to Noah for not ending the interview after being tipped off to my review of PARADIGM IN ENTROPY, as well!
MURDER THE DANCE – 2008
Since PARADIGM IN ENTROPY came out in 2005, there have been major lineup changes—only Austin D’Amond (drums) and yourself remain. Is it safe to say that MURDER THE DANCE features essentially a new band with a new sound?
Yeah man, I would definitely agree with that. I mean, I think you can still hear that sound that really punched at times on the first album, but Austin and I didn’t want the same sound album after album after album…that shit gets old. Our main goal was to kill or be killed with this record, and I think these new members helped us achieve that goal.
Why did you trim the fat by ditching a sixth member—Puck—and the electronic samples on the new CD? Thank you by the way……
Well, first off, we didn’t ditch Puck. He wanted to leave to take care of some personal matters that needed immediate attention. Once he left, we just got in the habit of hearing our music without all the fancy electronics. As we wrote more and more new songs, we noticed that most of our favourite records growing up had little to no electronics on them, so it feels much more comfortable now. Drum machines have no soul!
Three years ago, I pretty much ravaged PARADIGM IN ENTROPY in my review (Read HERE) and while I still stand by it, let me say that the new CD is like a complete about face. This is a thoroughly modern, fresh-sounding metal album that doesn’t sound dated. How did you approach MURDER THE DANCE differently to achieve this?
Damn brother, that a pretty good rip on us, but in most of your points I can somewhat agree. To put it plainly, we didn’t really know what we were doing back then. We had only been together for under a year when we got signed and literally had to throw together seven songs in a matter of a months. We don’t work well when we’re pressured for music. We like to relax and take our time, which is exactly what we did with MURDER THE DANCE. The look, sound, and overall attitude of our band is completely different now and much more mature in my eyes. We’re just five guys that get together and BBQ every weekend and drink ourselves stupid, if that tells you anything about our writing process.
PARADIGM IN ENTROPY – 2005
What caused the delay in the release of MURDER THE DANCE from last fall?
Although some of the delay was due to still struggling with the lineup change, one of our members has a family member with a serious chronic illness. That accompanied with our finances NEVER being where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there. Nothing ever rolls completely as planned with us. We’ve learned just to roll with the punches.
Fear Factory’s Christian Olde Wolbers produced MURDER THE DANCE. How did you end up getting involved with him?
Christian recorded Threat Signal’s debut album UNDER REPRISAL and we are very good friends with those dudes, so they mentioned us to Christian and we took it from there.
Some people might remember Martina Axén, who makes a guest vocal appearance on the track “Occam’s Razor,” from the hugely underrated Swedish band, Drain STH. The song is a major departure from both band’s sounds—I get a bit of a Deftones-meet-Radiohead slice of experimental ambience. How did she get involved with the band and what drew her into performing on that song in particular?
Well, Christian is friends with her. He talked to her about coming in and tracking with us, and she happily agreed. She and I listened to our entire record, and we both agreed that “Occam’s Razor” was the song for her, both musically and lyrically. That was an experience I’ll never forget!
Noah & Martina Axén
One of the tracks from the new CD, “Poseidon,” reminds me a lot of mid-period Pantera both in the riffs, groove and the vocal style. Were you going for an homage to that band?
Well, yes and no. Not so much an homage to them, in particular, as much as ALL the southern rock and metal that we all grew up listening to. As much as we all love Pantera, we’re also huge fans of COC, Clutch and Crowbar and so many others that paved the way for “modern” southern rock.
Likewise, I sense a Meshuggah-like feel to “The Demons That Could Be.” Am I off base at all?
Not at all, we’re all huge Meshuggah fans also.
Is the first single, “Sullivan,” directed at anyone in particular?
Very much so. When I was in high school, one of my teachers was arrested for sexually molesting a girl in my class. Now mind you, I grew up in a farming community with a total population of 1600, so everyone was devastated to find out our favourite teacher, Mr. Sullivan, could do something like this. Apparently it had been going on since we were in grade school. Not long after I wrote the lyrics to that song, I found out he was murdered in prison.
“Slavior” has an impossibly catchy chorus and is one of my favourite tracks on the new CD. How do you find the right balance of heavy versus melodic when penning songs like that alongside something like “Bastion” and “The Demons That Could Be”?
All of our songwriting moods are the same as “movie-moods” as I call them. Sometimes you want to sit and watch the most fucked up horror movie imaginable, and other times you want to relax and watch a good dramatic movie. Both are equally interesting; they just pique different senses.
What’s up with the scathing voicemail that makes up the hidden track at the end of the CD?
Long story, brother. Let’s just say someone’s mom is really pissed at us for putting that on the CD!
Threat Signal’s Jon Howard (a fellow Canadian and friend-of-a-friend, actually!) contributes a vocal to “Vertical Smile.” Were you put into contact with him through Christian’s association with Threat Signal or were you a fan of the band?
We’ve been friends with Jon for years now…before either band was signed, actually. I knew as soon as we started writing that song that I wanted him in there, and we were all stoked on his contribution!
You’ve done a video for “Sullivan.” Is it a concept piece or a performance video?
The video for “Sullivan” is strictly performance. We didn’t want to fuck up the intensity of the song by throwing together some bullshit concept that nobody really understands.
When will it be released?
The video’s in the final mastering process now, so it should be out soon on Headbanger’s Ball.
What are the band’s upcoming touring plans? Any Canadian dates on the schedule?
We want to just tour the fuck out of this album, non-stop movement. We have a date in Toronto on August 20th at the Wreck Room, and I’m sure we’ll have some more Canadian dates in the near future.
Popular lore is that Opeth gave Bleed The Sky your first break by having you open for them. Have you called on Opeth to take you guys out on tour again now that you have a couple albums under your belts?
Not yet, but that would be killer!
When you had your trailer holding all your equipment stolen a couple years ago, you asked for help and donations from fans. What sort of response did you get from people on this? Was the gear ever recovered?
The gear was never recovered, but our fans and families really pulled shit together quickly for us. Between them and endorsements, we managed to build our gear back into a stable state again and we’re eternally grateful for that!
A lot of bands say that they are happiest when playing gigs on the road. Honestly, is it all worth it when faced with traveling in a van with a bunch of sweaty dudes, eating shitty gas station food and splitting a couple hundred bucks between you night after night? Do you ever crave the security of a “regular” 9-to-5 type of lifestyle?
Everything you just listed about touring is exactly how it is for us, but we couldn’t be happier doing it. A bad day on the road is better that a good day at “work” as far as we’re concerned. We wouldn’t have it any other way since none of us are fond of “punching a time card”.
Has Bleed The Sky devoted itself to being professional musicians or do you still work "regular jobs" between album cycles?
Most of us still work when we’re at home just to keep steady money coming in.
I understand that you moved from Oklahoma to Orange County a few years ago but just recently relocated back to Oklahoma again. Why the return to your original stomping grounds?
Mostly for financial reasons. Most of us have families to support and it was just too goddamn expensive to live there. We never really felt like we could relax. We always had to be moving, constantly moving, trying to make more money. If you know us, that’s nothing like any of us. We like to relax on the weekends and play video games all day while drinking in a haze. It just felt good to get back “home” and see how positively it affected our overall moral. Major improvement.
Did you consider packing it in at any point during the exodus of members between albums? What kept you going?
I thought about it every day while that shit was going on, but Austin really helped me through it. His persistence was all I had to look forward to, and I’m thankful for that. It really did pay off for us.
Looking back at PARADIGM IN ENTROPY now, do you see anything that makes you cringe because you were such a young, inexperienced band or do you treat it as a moment in time?
Moment in time, brother, nothing more.
Any last words for the readers of Metal-Rules.com?
A big fuckin’ thanks to all of you for the constant encouragement and support. Nothing’s possible without the fans! See you fuckers on the road with a lion-tamer in hand!
***Thanks to Loana at Nuclear Blast Records for coordinating the interview.
Bleed The Sky—MySpace Page