Shattered Destiny – Vocalist JJ
Interviewed by EvilG
New, up and coming band, Shattered Destiny, presents us with a mixture of power/thrash and even some tinges of prog on their debut EP entitled FRAGMENTS. We caught up with the vocalist and band mastermind, JJ, to talk about the band, working with Joacim Cans (HammerFall) and what their plans are for the near future!
For you, what is a "shattered destiny" and how did you decide upon the name?
This is based on the story and message of the story as a whole. It’s meaning goes back to many of the themes from the concept album (which will be more clear on the full-length). When you suffer loss of any kind it seems there is a need to fixate on what could have been. This is the destiny of that person or even ideal. When someone dies before their life is fulfilled by whatever standard this can be measured then it feels as if it is broken. The idea was based on looking into a mirror and visualizing a destiny only to see the mirror shattered before it can be understood. I know this sounds a bit convoluted, but the concept came from a screenplay I wrote which eventually became the basis for the concept album.
What is your background – were you in other bands before Shattered Destiny or involved in the music industry in any capacity in order to develop the connections you have?
I had worked on musical scores for various independent movies prior to this. No full bands except when I was in high school, but at that time I was strictly a drummer. The people who worked with me on the album were mostly personal friends and it was just an organic thing.
You list both Michael Kiske and Joacim Cans as influences yet you don’t sound like either of them. You have your OWN sound which I can’t really say sounds like anyone in particular!?
I completely agree. The EP was my first time in the studio as a vocalist and was a quick and dirty learning process. Shattered Destiny’s music is and will always be concept pieces that require a certain amount of acting in the vocals to make it work. By the time The full length is done the vocals for Shattered Destiny will be fully defined. As with any first recording there are things I feel worked well and others that I want to change. The important part was for the emotions of the lyrics to come across in the delivery. Joacim stressed that I should avoid sounding like anyone else and just go with my own style.
How did you get the band members together and how long of a process was it to put together the band, and then record and release?
The band was gathered over the course of about 3 months. We lost our drummer right before recording was to begin, which is why we had Mark Zonder play on the EP. The EP was recorded in whole in a week. There was some short pre-production before this but not much. The release took about 2 months to get ready after the recordings were done. For the full length we are going to be in pre-production for about 3 months and studio time will be longer.
How did you get Joacim Cans to assist in the recording? How much involvement did he have in terms of suggestions for arrangement, melodies, etc?
Joacim is a friend. So he just offered to sit in with me. He acted as a vocal coach. He basically kept me minding pitch and committing emotion to the vocal deliveries. We both felt it was important to minimize his involvement because Shattered Destiny needs to be its own band with its own identity. I admire his work and he is a great musician so there was a natural influence from his writing in the music already. His support alone is worthy of thanks.
FRAGMENTS was recorded earlier this year in Gothenburg, Sweden. I originally assumed that perhaps it was mixed there and recorded in your home base…so how does a new band finance such a big under-taking? Did you play a lot of live shows etc to save up for the trip and recording? OR did you guys personally finance the whole thing?
I am the only band member that lives in the states. The rest of the band all lives together. When I am over there we practice together and when I am not they practice with a backing track and practice karaoke style. With skype, etc. its really not a difficult process. The financing was done entirely by us saving and selling everything on ebay! Its tough to make money but this is something we all really believe in, so it’s worth it.
I didn’t realize you were the only band member located in the states! What country is the rest of the band in? If the full-length comes out and you get to tour, would you consider moving to be closer?
The rest of my band lives in Moscow. I go there several times a year as it is. If we get enough support and touring on regular basis I would move to Sweden :). Close enough and gives us a nice home base for European tours.
I have to say, with Joacim involved, I was kind of expecting something that sounded maybe a little bit like HammerFall….however, it sounds nothing like HammerFall. Was that deliberate on his and your behalf?
Not deliberate at all. HammerFall is a fantastic band, but as a writer it is just not what comes out of me. There is one almost straight power metal song on the full length. When I write I write to fit the story of the song and try not to think in terms of metal genres so it can be more organic. Joacim already does that perfectly, I see no reason to try to mimic what someone else does.
The album cover art is fantastic! Did you provide any direction into what its elements should be?
I drew a pencil sketch of basically what you see. I then provided the story for the picture, details of the characters and the emotional concept behind the actions. Niklas, aside from being a talented genius, really gets what I am going for and he pretty much nailed it on his first draft. Shattered Destiny is a complete entity from the artwork to every lyric a part of the story is being told, so its important that I remain active in each step of the creation process.
Although awesome, the album cover art looks like it might come from a death metal band or some form of extreme metal…and that’s not the style of Shattered Destiny. Did you think that, or think that it even matters?
Never thought it mattered. I knew I did not want it to be fantastical. The story is extremely dark, so a fantasy style cover, which I love, would have been unfitting. Beautiful art is beautiful no matter what. The artwork sets the mood for the story contained within. There are some extreme elements within our music, but I see no reason for the art to dictate the actual style.
I assume “Fragments” was shopped to many labels…What has the feedback been like?
“Fragments” was not shopped per se. We always intended to self-release the EP and use it like a demo to shop to labels for the full-length. We have already had some response and offers. We plan to enter the studio this Winter to record the full-length so we are evaluating which label would be the best partner for us.
I understand that you have a full length written. How does the music and style compare to FRAGMENTS?
The four songs on Fragments are being re-recorded and reworked somewhat for the full length. They are part of the full story and there are things we want to make better. The remaining 7 songs will complete the entire story. From the people who have heard the demos, they all say that each song has its own sound. There is a shorter song and a much longer songs. As I mentioned earlier, there is a more power metal song and there is also a very proggy song. There is also one straight up thrash tune in there.
Are you hoping to again record in Sweden under the direction of Joacim or have you not planned that far ahead yet?
If all goes as planned, yes we will be in Sweden again. There are many schedules to be coordinated so it’s simply impossible to confirm anything until it actually happens. Joacim would always be welcome
If there happens to be no label interest, will you still record and release the album independently… and if so when approximately?
Even with label interest, there is some incentive to self-release. With the internet, distribution is not nearly as difficult as it once was. If we do not find a label that will provide us with the support we need to advance to the next level then we will self-release. We plan to record in winter and release in spring of 2013 with a tour shortly after.
Have you been playing live recently? What kinds of places have you played and do you plan to play?
Not really. This is primarily due to be located geographically separate. With our new drummer we have a full permanent band. We have worked on the live show and are prepared. Even though we have some offers for live shows, we feel it doesn’t make sense to play those until we have a full-length to support. The cost of getting to a one-off show would result in a huge financial loss. This is why we will work to get on an opening slot for a tour following the release of the full-length.
Are you all in a position to tour or with other work/life commitments, are you doing weekend gigs?
We plan to commit to full tours all over the world once the full-length is released.
What is next for Shattered Destiny?
We will have our official video for Epilogue released soon! Then next up is recording the full-length.
Cool news on the video. Will it be a story video? Live clips of the band? etc?
The video for "Epilogue" is an animated video supporting the story and lyrics. It looks AWESOME! For the full length we will have a live performance video and a story video, both of which are in planning stages
What have you been listening to recently?
Accept – Stalingrad
Kreator – Phantom Antichrist
Unisonic – Unisonic
Awesome playlist, and similar to my current playlist as well. Thanks for your time!
And thank you!