Interview with Ancient Creation vocalist Steve Bentley
Conducted by Robert Williams
Kansas City traditional metallers Ancient Creation return with their triumphant third full length record "Moonlight Monument" released this month through North Carolina’s Heaven and Hell Records. Fans of early Fates Warning and Mercyful Fate would do themselves a favor to check out the new album, showcasing an old school American metal feel, not that far removed from Twisted Tower Dire. Riff upon mighty riff complemented by vocalist Steve Bentley’s powerful vocals make this an early candidate for one of the best metal records released stateside so far this year. Vocalist Steve Bentley recently took the time to chat with Metal-Rules.com to bring us up to speed with all of the excitement surounding the release of "Moonlight Monument"…
How are you doing today Steve?
Thanks for asking, doing very well and thanks for the interview.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover today, let’s start at the beginning. How did you get your start as a metal vocalist?
It started for me in the mid 80’s. I was really into early Metallica, Slayer & Venom etc. but then I got turned onto the shock generation like W.A.S.P., Lizzy Borden & Alice Cooper, streaked my hair and started a band.
Was there a particular song or vocalist that inspired you to become the singer for a metal band?
I was really into W.A.S.P. and I think Blackie Lawless was a great frontman but to me Dio was the "Ultimate Vocalist".
Give me a little back history on the band, when and how did Ancient Creation originally form? Did you guys all know each other before or how did you meet?
Peter and Andy started the band around 2003 and I joined sometime 2004 , Mike Burns the original drummer at the time was in my old band Darkside years before that and contacted me when we split up to see if I would be interested. And here I am. We jammed a little bit; everything clicked and gave the band a name Ancient Creation.
Tell me about the metal scene in Kansas City, Missouri. Are people over there pretty receptive to your music? Are there a lot of supportive venues where you’re at? Are there any bands from your scene that you’d urge our readers to check out?
We have a great metal scene in Kansas City and the fans are very supportive. We always seem to get booked with the death metal bands and pretty much all these bands and fans love the old school metal, so we have a wide following around the Midwest and there are a few good venues that cater to metal and do really well, hopefully more will follow.
There are several great bands from Kansas City such as Meatshank, & Vanlade just to name a small few and right down the street from us in Wichita is the legends Manilla Road, very cool guys and I always recommend them to everybody.
Ancient Creation has just released your third album "Moonlight Monument" through Heaven and Hell Records. I know a lot of people must be calling this your finest musical effort to date, what would like to say about your new record?
We are really excited to get this CD out, it was late 2007, early 2008 when “Evolution Bound" came out and we have been writing like crazy to come up with what we feel, blows the last CD away. We went with the ProTools recording, so that it’s a much cleaner and clearer sound and we kept the songs the way we felt them with no trend to be like everybody else. Every song is basically epics.
The mastering duties for "Moonlight Monument" were handled by Gary Long (King Diamond, Solitude Aeturnus) of Nomad Studios. Were you guy’s familiar with his past credits? Were you trying to capture a specific sound you might have heard on an album that he had worked on? Are you guys pretty happy with how the new record sounds?
Actually while we were recording “Evolution Bound" we listened to the Solitude Aeturnus album “Alone" over and over again and got a taste of the band. When we got to the point when we wanted to have the album mastered, we basically went through our favorite albums and that’s the one we picked, called him up and lucky for us he was available, he had great credits and if he could master as well as he did on “Alone" we were set. And he did, and we are proud of it and the sound.
Do you guys plan on touring for "Moonlight Monument"? Maybe as part of a package tour with three or four other bands or a select string of headlining dates out on your own? I really hope you guys get the opportunity to play this record live…
Yeah, we are currently booking shows and working on getting some festival dates. If the right tour came along, we we would take it. We are looking forward to everyone hearing the new album and seeing us live. Nothing’s better then meeting and hanging with the fans.
Who would be some bands that you think would be an ideal fit for Ancient Creation to tour with?
A band like ours can really fit with most any metal bands, I would love to go out on tour with Nevermore & Iced Earth and the ultimate tour would be with King Diamond/Mercyful Fate, Savatage & Armored Saint.
The songs on "Moonlight Monument" are pretty progressive and complex arrangements with many twists and turns along the way. I’d be curious as to how you guys approach songwriting, is it a collaborative effort or does one or two members handle the bulk of the songwriting?
Peter wrote almost all of the songs off the album, except for a couple with Andy. They put their ideas onto our recorder and I write the lyrics to what I hear and then we arrange it to fit my ideas and come to an agreement, then we jam them out to work out the bugs.
Do you have a favorite song on "Moonlight Monument"? Do any of the lyrics on the new record hold any special meaning or significance for you personally?
I love the title track, I love horror movies, the occult, aliens, Bigfoot and conspiracies. So basically all of our songs are short stories of death, doom and demise… (laughs)
What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of making "Moonlight Monument"? Were there any setbacks along the way or would you say the entire process from songwriting down to mastering was a pretty smooth ride?
It was far from a smooth ride, we lost two longtime members along the way, we also were originally going to have Neil Kernon mix the album but he kept getting stuck in bigger projects and kept getting pushed back until we had no choice except to move on and finish it, very long project but it turned out great
Jason Johnson who played guitar for Ancient Creation for five years and on the first two full length releases left the band in 2008. What were the reasons for his departure from the band?
Jason had some family issues with his parents out of town and had to relocate to be with them and take care of them. Also, we lost our long term drummer Mike, one of my very best friends, he pretty much got full custody of his kids and for that family priority changes and we all understood, but we are still great friends and we wish both guys the best.
Where did you guys find his replacement Ryan Bender?
Ryan was a short term player, we now have former Graven Image / Doomshade guitarist Maxx Christopher, we did several shows with Doomshade and I’ve known him for years doing shows with Darkside & Graven Image in the mid-90s and we added drummer Kevin Keeton from the industrial band Swill, he came in tried out and it was killer, new blood new band…
Considering that the first Ancient Creation album "The Uprising" was self-released and your next record “Evolution Bound" came out on the now defunct Melissa Records label, is there any chance that Heaven and Hell Records might re-issue your earlier material? Has there been any discussions about that? Where can people purchase those two albums right now?
You might be able to catch a copy or two of "The Uprising" on eBay, it’s a hard one to find, very limited to only 300 copies, you can still get Evolution Bound on CDBABY or you can download it at i-Tunes or several other sites.
I have talked to Jeremy at Heaven & Hell Records about releasing “Evolution Bound" and he was going to contact the former Melissa Records about it, but our main concentration is "Moonlight Monument"!
How did you originally get into heavy metal music? Who were the bands that initially rocked your world, forever changed your life and made you proud to call yourself a metalhead?
Like I said earlier im really into the theatrics of the the stage shows of WASP, Lizzy Borden, Alice Cooper, GWAR etc. But musically Iron Maiden and Judas Priest stands apart by far.
What’s next for Ancient Creation? Is there anything else you’d like to plug or publicly address?
We have several shows coming up soon and look to play several shows across the US, maybe catch a good tour package but our main goal is to get overseas and do a festival or two and a small tour. I think we would do really well overseas. We also are already writing new material for our next CD.
Thanks for taking the time to talk metal with me today Steve. Before we wrap this up do you have any last words for your fans reading at home?
Brother, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me and helping support my band. I just want our fans to know that we truly appreciate all their support and hope that they can make it out to a show and to make sure if they do, they stop and say hi, we love our fans and without them we wouldn’t exist… It’s a METAL BROTHERHOOD!