Eric “A.K.” Knutson of Flotsam and Jetsam – Doing it from the Heart!
Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Flotsam and Jetsam is a band from Phoenix, Arizona with a legacy that goes back well over 30 years. It’s hard to believe that their debut album release, Doomsday for The Deceiver, came out in the summer of 1986. Fast-forward 30 years and several member changes the band is now back and re-energized with Eric “AK” Knutson, Mike Gilbert, Michael Spencer, Steve Conley and Jason Bittner, essentially a new band with a 30-year history.
After their 2015 European tour the band took this new found energy and focused on writing another new CD. What started as 18 rough ideas turned into an album’s worth of killer material. The end result is the self- titled Flotsam and Jetsam CD due out May 20th. It showcases five very distinct personalities and influences coming together for the common goal of creating another soon to be metal classic.
I caught up with vocalist, Eric “A.K.” Knutson, to talk about their latest release, the band’s legacy, and the sacrifices made along the way.
Krisiun is a death metal squad that never just rest on their laurels. The trio keeps pushing forward spreading their Brazilian death metal all over the world. The band’s latest offering FORGED IN FURY came out a year ago and offers true death metal sonic brutality. Metal-Rules.Com sat down with the Krisiun guitarist Moyses Kolesne before the band hit the stage.
Roadburn is definitely the leading indoor festival on the massive European festival map. All in all, 4,300 visitors per day from all different corners of the world attended the festival. The whole festival event was sold out. Roadburn is such an eccentric & fascinating festival because it offers a wide range of different kinds of sonic musical pleasure from the electro noise via a dramatic musical journey to the most extreme forms of metal. Metal-Rules.com was at present at Roadburn to witness the unique performances and gigs by many musicians and bands. This year the event was curated by the legendary Lee Dorrian who had invited, for example, Diamanda Galas, whose performance was extremely dominating and rousing. However here is the brief article on Roadburn 2016.
Bay Area thrash metal is an institution and provided a massive metal revolution in the very early 80’s. Exodus is the legend of the whole genre even though the band has faced several unexpected turns during its long career. Metal-Rules.com sat down with the only original Exodus member left, Tom Hunting, to talk about the latest 10th album and various other interesting topics that may interest die-hard Exodus fans.
Music For Nations, the legendary British heavy metal label responsible for discovering and releasing records by Metallica, Tool, and Opeth, amongst others, has teamed up with SonyMusic Independent Network (SIN) to become an active front-line label for the first time in more than a decade, and for the first time with a dedicated U.S. presence.
Headed by Julie Weir in the UK and in association with SIN in New York, the label will be signing and releasing new product by new artists while additionally, starting in June 2016 with Opeth and Paradise Lost albums, reissuing and repackaging classic catalog titles.
Ms. Weir’s career has included working with artists including Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Bullet for My Valentine; she has also partnered with Sony Music UK in the past on breaking new rock artists including Nothing But Thieves. She also recently played a key role in developing RCA’s Bring Me The Horizon who has achieved phenomenal international success.
SIN, a division of Sony Music International, was launched in 2009 by Adam Pollock and Vinny Rich to serve as a United States incubator for Sony’s international artists. Headquartered in New York City at RED Distribution, who offer distribution, sales and marketing support for the unit, SIN has released thousands of titles over the years including high-profile projects Kate Miller-Heidke, Karnivool, and Zaz, and has “up-streamed” to Sony’s major U.S. labels diverse artists such as Paloma Faith, Kodaline, MØ and, coincidentally although not in conjunction with Ms. Weir, Nothing But Thieves.
UK label manager Joel De’ath exclaims, “We see this as an incredible opportunity for MFN. RED works with some of the most reputable Metal Labels in the world and it’s an honor to be part of this legacy. Having SIN as our ‘men on the street’ in the U.S. ties it all together.” SIN’s Rich concurred, “We hope and expect that the union of MFN, RED, and SIN will breathe new life to this hell-raising music. We’re excited to be a part of a new chapter in MFN’s history.”
Initial MFN U.S. releases will be two classic reissues; Opeth’s triple LP live album, Lamentations, recorded live in 2003 soon after the release of the band’s classic Deliverance and Damnation albums, and Paradise Lost’s genre-defining classic, Shades of God, coming for the first time on picture disc.
As well as the forthcoming physical releases, the Music for Nations catalogue is available on digital and streaming services, including classics from Opeth, Cradle of Filth, Paradise Lost and Anathema.
THOR A ROCK ODYSSEY at the Highline Ballroom NYC, May
Tickets at Highlineballroom.comThor
A Rock Odyssey is not just a rock concert; it will break
open a new dimension in Rock Entertainment. Thor will not
only perform his debut album, Keep the Dogs Away in its
entirety, he will also perform thunderous fan favorites
including but not limited to Thunder on the Tundra, Warriors
of the Universe, and Ride of the Chariots with his mighty
band in a three part theatrical show about his musical
career and his conquests as a champion bodybuilder. A full
cast of characters, heroes, villains, strongmen, and rock
oddities from all walks come together to perform in this
larger than life rock drama, Thor A Rock
PM Live interview with Thor, and his band Thor’s
Warriors of the Universe; Chris Totaro, Scott Jackson, Paul
LaPlaca, Jack Frost, and Rick Fabio. Several guest musicians
are scheduled to perform: long time drummer Mike Favata and
bassist Keith Zazzi, guitar legend Frank Soda, James Whang
from Unchained, and Brian Kotzenek from the Epoxies. Meet
and greet will be available to prepaid ticket holders. Thor
will take fans through a museum tour of his trophies and
rare rock memorabilia. Museum closes at
– Watch Thor’s award winning documentary “I
Am THOR”. Autographed copies will be for sale at the
Keep the Dogs Away: Thor performs 1977 debut album
“Keep the Dogs Away” live for the first time in
honor of the Deadline/Cleopatra Records special packaging
reissue of the CD and Vinyl album release on May 13.
Autographed CDs and vinyl will be available in limited
quantity at the show.8:40
– Battle For New York: “Heal” sung by Chris
Totaro, “New York Energy City” sung by Lauren
Fabio, and “Mushroom World” sung by Thor. TITANO
Strongman will perform strength feats and sword swallowing,
followed by a gladiator battle to save New York
City. 9:00 –
THOR POWER SET. Thor will bring down the house with his
For tickets go to: http://highlineballroom.com/show/2016/05/14/thor/
Cannibal Corpse has managed to maintain such a loyal and renewing fan base during these years. When the gore death metallers made the first visit to Finland back in 1998 with Dark Funeral and Infernal Majesty, I dare to claim the audience was totally different and none of those who attended that show, hardly arrived at Nosturi to witness Cannibal Corpse along with the Brazilian death metal trio Krisiun. However, it was overwhelming to note as between 400-500 deathbangers crawled to Nosturi on Thursday to share the pit of zombies and get devoured by vermin.
Black Friday announcement with ABBATH, MOONSORROW and GRAVE!
This time we’re about to bring more orthodox stuff to the table, starting with Norwegian giant gone solo ABBATH! The aptly named DARKENED NOCTURN SLAUGHTERCULT will perform their blood soaked ritual at this BA. We are also welcoming the pagan veterans MOONSORROW. Germans DUST BOLT bring thrash metal as well as their partners in crime LOST SOCIETY from Finland. Blasphemous Polish death metal act EMBRIONAL will be part of the line-up as well as Swedish melodic doom/death act OCTOBER TIDE and lycanthro punk originators WOLFBRIGADE. Fans of modern forms of metal would appreciate young Australian metalcore with mathcore elements JACK THE STRIPPER. American songwriter KING DUDE will perform his dark neo folk. Unfortunate news in the end, NILE had to pull out the fest, however we managed to get two other great death metal acts on the bill to compensate this loss. Namely the godfathers of Swedish death metal GRAVE and the returning turn-of-the-millenium Brazilian prospects REBAELLIUN!
NORTH AMERICAN HEADLINE TOUR TO BE ANNOUNCED MONDAY, MAY 2ND
MAGMA ARRIVES JUNE 17TH
WATCH THE OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR GOJIRA’S NEW TRACK “STRANDED”
Roadrunner Records group Gojira have announced details of their anticipated new LP MAGMA. The follow up album to 2012’s widely acclaimed L’ENFANT SAUVAGE, MAGMA is heralded by the new single “Stranded,” which is streaming now accompanied by an official music video directed by Vincent Caldoni at www.Gojira-Music.com. Pre-orders for MAGMA are available today at www.Gojira-Music.com, with all orders receiving an instant grat download of “Stranded” (album art below). Exclusive bundles are also available, which include a limited edition 52 page hardcover book with exclusive photos, sketches and artwork from the creation of MAGMA. Additionally, all bundles also include a DVD and HD digital download of Gojira’s 2015 Rock In Rio performance featuring newly mixed audio done by the band themselves. MAGMA arrives everywhere June 17th.
Thanks to Mighty Music for the promo pictures of the band Additional live pictures taken from the show in Malmö by: Anders Sandvall
Here comes an update on what’s going on in the Nonexist camp. The band recently released their brand new album THRONE OF SCARS. If you’re interested in knowing more about the band and band leader Johan Reinholdz, make sure to check the previous interviews available in the Metal-Rules.com archives. When we last spoke, Reinholdz was in the process of mixing THRONE OF SCARS so this time I was interested in knowing more about how the work had proceeded. Former singer Johan Liiva has since left the band and Reinholdz has now taken over as lead singer. The band has also inked a deal with the Danish record label Mighty Music. Read more about what Reinholdz had to say down below.
Thanks to GerMusica for the promo pictures of the band Promo pictures taken by: Raimo Gedda Additional live pictures from the archives of: Anders Sandvall
VOICE OF REASON is the brand new fifth release from the undisputed kings of progressive/heavy metal, Cloudscape. The album was released at the end of January and their previous album came out in 2012. The band have always released albums quickly so why they had such a gap in between albums was one of the questions I brought along to singer Mike Andersson. With VOICE OF REASON the band worked with a producer they haven’t worked with before in Anders Theo Theander, however the album was recorded in the same studio they recorded their previous excellent albums; RoastingHouse Studio located in Malmo, Sweden. Read on to find out what the band is up to now that the album is released… enjoy.
Italy’s premier metallers are back and heavier than ever. Lacuna Coil’s upcoming album, ‘Delirium’ is set for release at the end of May, and it promises to be an insight into the darkest and most tortured corners of human experience. Based around the concept of an asylum in the hills of Italy, the record explores the themes of insanity, and as the name suggests, it’s a trip into delirium. We spoke to the band’s vocalists, Andrea and Cristina, to find out more about the album’s concept, where they got the inspiration for it, what it means to them and why they’ve taken a change in musical direction.
Hello, thanks for talking to Metal-Rules. How are you both doing today?
Cristina: Really great. We have a coffee machine, that helps.
You’re set to release ‘Delirium’ on 27th May, what can you tell us about the concept and how did you come up with the idea?
Cristina: It’s a long story, but to put a long story short we were working on one of the songs, we were working on the chorus of it and the word ‘Delirium’ came up. Since that day everything opened up in front of our own eyes, and in a second. So we immediately visualised the whole idea, not only for all of the lyrics, but also for the artwork, for the image that we wanted to connect with it. So, we imagined this fictional asylum close to Milan where patients within the asylum, and also spirits and old memories of patients that lived there before would tell us stories about their past experiences or their present experiences. So, the songs came out in this way, describing insanity, different levels of insanity. Not only from a medical perspective, but also something bigger that encompasses the insanity that we’re living in nowadays with everything that’s happening to us in the world.
The asylum that you talk about, is this place entirely fictional or based on anything real at all?
Cristina: It’s based on something real.
Andrea: We’d been visiting a couple of abandoned asylums that we have in northern Italy. One is about an hour out of the city, and the other one is a but further out. But still they’re very very dangerous because they’re falling to pieces, so you’re walking and pieces of the roof will come down around you. It’s not actually legal to go inside, but we wanted to check it out. Many people use it for pictures and stuff like that. It was very impressive to see all these very tall corridors and all the rooms, and thinking about people that lived there. We’d also been watching old pictures we found on the internet about patients. Those were more scary than some horror movies about these kind of things, because these patients were real first of all. Just the look on their faces, the emptiness, the sense of abandonment, the sense of getting really lost. That was scarier than something you see in a movie. You don’t need blood or violence. Just those pictures and the positions they were taking spontaneously, it was so weird.
Cristina: It was just disturbing. You could totally feel the anxiety, the pressure. It was really uncomfortable.
Andrea: The position of them when they were outside in the open, they were sitting randomly but it looked so weird. It inspired a lot, also about the research we did for the stage clothes and stuff like that. The way that we position ourselves in the pictures for the artwork and the promotional pictures.
So you did a lot of research on the subject?
Andrea: Yes, because we thought it was a very strong concept and it was worth doing something that really gives you an idea of what we meant with the metaphor of real life problems, and more generally the big problem of mental illness.
Cristina: And also something that we felt close to talk about, something that we also experienced in a way. Some of us went through episodes, periods of depression, some of us have been visiting for family reasons, places where people with mental problems were.
It touches everyone at some point.
Andrea: And there’s a strong reality to this part of you.
Upon first listen, the album strikes me as coming across a lot heavier than anything you’ve done in a long time, what are your reasons for this change in direction?
Cristina: It’s not like we just sat round a table and decided systematically, it was more of a spontaneous evolution of the record. We knew that we wanted to go heavier just because we enjoyed playing some of the songs more, when we perform live especially. So, the overall feeling of the band was that we wanted to do something heavier. But, of course, once you start songwriting you don’t know really where you’re going to go. So we didn’t really know that some of the songs were going sound THAT heavy compared to our usual type of songwriting. But, that’s what we liked about it, we said everyone is expecting us to maybe go softer, and we’re going in the complete opposite direction. We were loving it, but we also liked the fact that it was going to be something different from usual.
Andrea: We wanted to surprise ourselves first, and then also the listeners. That’s why we chose ‘House of Shame’ as the first song, which is probably one of the heaviest of the record. We thought that it was a good idea to shake things up, to say we’re back but it’s not just another Lacuna Coil record, because we’ve done quite a few records now. We wanted to tell people that we want to say something different this time, and we still have the passion to write music and to explore some territories that are not so common for us.
There are also a lot more growled vocals than we’re used to, why have you decided to make this change and why didn’t you use them so much before?
Cristina: Well, it’s something that we did at the very beginning of Lacuna Coil but we’ve never used as much as in this record. They just fitted perfectly with the vibe of the record and they were sounding great. I honestly love the sound of his (Andrea’s) growling vocals, I think they’re really distinctive. He has a very distinctive voice, and you can immediately recognise it as his voice. It’s so different from so many others. I was really excited when we decided to put more growls in the record.
Andrea: We kind of also, when we were songwriting with Marco the bassplayer who is the main songwriter for the band, came up with these heavy riffs and double bass. We thought instead of trying to water them down and make them more as we used to be and finding a compromise, we decided instead to push on the button and go full on heavy. If you’re going heavy, go all the way. Don’t try to make it work, just go for it. This way people can realise how honest the song is, not you trying to be cool by being a little heavier or whatever.
When releasing a new album, do you ever anticipate the response it will get or is it something you don’t think about?
Cristina: We don’t really think about reactions to be honest. That would be contrived, that would be really weird to sit down and write for somebody else. I mean, if we were a team writing songs for others then maybe we would think in this way. But, as soon as this is our art we want do something that we feel, something that we like, something that we can relate to. We don’t really think about how the album is going to be accepted, we didn’t really think about it. I believe that as soon as you’re honest and you’re putting out something that really represents who you are, I think you have a good that a lot of people will understand and like it.
For people who haven’t heard the album yet, how would you describe its sound?
Cristina: Ooh (laughs). Well if they’ve heard our music before this, they have to expect something definitely heavier. We stretched the vocals and we took them to the next level because Andrea’s never been as aggressive, and I’ve never reached higher notes. There are a lot of layers in this record, so there’s nothing so immediate. They will have to listen to songs over and over to find out all the layers that are in it, vocally and musically.
Andrea: If I had to describe the album, I’d say that it’s a trip. It’s a trip because it takes you through different curves, up and down. All the songs kind of build a little different mood, and until the end you can always go faster, there’s parts where you slow down and then go fast again. So, I would say it’s like a trip. A lot of people that have heard it told me that it’s an emotional trip in a way.
Cristina: And it’s also very evocative, very descriptive. So you’re totally sucked in as soon as you hear it, because you just listen to the lyrics and you know exactly where you are. The lyrics are just enhancing the music and helping the listener to have a more complete vision of everything.
What were the most challenging aspects of recording the album?
Cristina: For us singers, it’s recording vocals because it doesn’t really matter if you’re tired or if you’re sick, you have to be there. You have a certain amount of days, so you have to do it in that amount of days. For me it was challenging to try and reach the super high notes. It’s not always easy because some days everything is going good, and sometimes I’m like I’m too tired, I can’t do it.
Andrea: One thing that you’ve done one day, it’s so hard to reproduce. When we did the demos, some vocals that we sang on them still sound better than the ones we did in the studio. In the studio we sang it like 20 times, and at home when we were doing the demos we sang it once, and we never got the same exact intention, the same exact energy of that take. You can’t reproduce it. Sometimes it’s just that one take… you can’t reproduce it even if it’s longer or with a better pitch, even trying 20 different techniques you still can’t reach the same result. That’s an amazing thing about recording.
In terms of music videos, have you got any on the way?
Cristina: We are going to release a lyric video in a few days, but we’re going to film a proper video in the next few weeks.
What can you tell us about it?
Cristina: We’re still talking about it.
Andrea: We’re still discussing it, because we have a very clear idea of what we want but we need to find the right person to do it. We don’t want to abuse some cheap effects. As I said before, when we saw the picture of the real patients, those are stronger than any other horror picture I’ve seen. We want the video to be just like that. We want it to be very realistic and based more on the strength of the images than on some weird effect or light or whatever. We want everything to be more about the photography and the way you capture the images. That has to be strong.
I see you have a US tour coming up, but do you know when you’ll be back in the UK?
Cristina: Hopefully in the fall, because we’re playing in The Philippines and in China for the first time at the end of the month and the beginning of May, and then we’ll be in the US for some headlining gigs and some with Halestorm. At the end of that month the album will be released, then we’ll come back to Europe for some summer festival and we’ll be planning stuff for the fall, but we don’t have a schedule yet. Hopefully we can squeeze the UK in, possible during the summer. We don’t know yet.
Andrea: It’s going to be either in the summer for maybe one festival, or we’re going to come back for sure in the fall for a full European tour.
Cristina: It will be this year or next year, I believe.
Andrea: It will be before the end of the year, I think.
We’ve got to wrap things up there, is there anything else you’d like to say?
Cristina: I hope that people will understand the record and that they will understand that there’s a lot in it, and it’s deeper than it might seem from the first look or listen. So, I hope that they will understand everything of it because it is definitely a trip worth taking.