George Call of ASKA

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George Call of ASKA
Interviewed by EvilG in Dec. 2000

Every now and then a CD pops up the grabs your attention both musically and lyrically. Aska’s AVENGER is one such CD. Not only is the album’s music and storyline interesting, but so is ASKA’s lead guitarist / vocalist – George Call. His answers to my questions make for some very interesting reading. I think we’ll be hearing much more from this band in the next couple of years. 

Let’s start out with what I know about your band…AVENGER. Like you said, this does take a few listens to start getting into it. I’ve heard it maybe 10-12 times now and it gets better on each listen!  Why do you think this has been people’s reaction?

I think simply because there is so much going on in AVENGER that it takes that long for the enormity of it to sink in.  It’s been our experience within the band that songs that grab you first or immediately, tend to leave you just as quickly, while the songs that take a little time to grow on you seem to stick with you for the long haul.  Believe me, we’d written enough of these quick-hook songs in the past to know that we didn’t want this for AVENGER.  We wanted AVENGER to be a more serious work and thus the writing was done from that perspective.  We also did many subtle things within the songs, musically and melodically, which don’t really surface on the first listen or two. When they do you can’t believe you didn’t notice before.  It’s these little things that I think have helped propel this recording onto so many people’s ‘favorite’ list; The attention to detail. It has been said that beauty is in the details.


 I bet all the press on this CD was good?!

Actually, yes. I’d say 99% has been resoundingly positive and beyond our expectations.  All of the major and minor underground mags have given the disc great marks. And many have even gone on to call it cd of the year and all that goes with it.  ROCK HARD! magazine in Germany recently featured ‘Crown Of Thorns’ on the cd that comes free with their publication. That’s 100,000 copies of our song pressed up for their disc because they liked it that much, and it’s at absolutely no cost to the band. Same with France’s METALLIAN magazine which included ‘Lethal Injection’ on their freebie disc. We have absolutely no label influence with these magazines. None. No major ad campaign. Nothing.  They’re featuring these songs because they like them, period, and that speaks volumes to the fans I think.  Interestingly enough, and I’d be remiss to not mention this, the two pieces of negative press we did receive were from right here in Dallas/Fort Worth, our hometown so to speak. Go figure.  Nothing like nurturing and encouraging the talent in one’s own backyard!


 I’ve read that AVENGER was a big step for the band in that it is your most consistent album. What was changed in the band that made this happen – attitudes, playing ability, etc?

Well, for starters, and I did a lot of analyzing here, we’ve been a great band with many great songs but I think we pandered to too many people in our past recorded work.  We had a really cool thing going with myself, Darren, and Keith all sharing lead vocal duties. We wrote our music around our individual strengths within the various styles of the rock/metal spectrum without embracing any particular direction. No limits or boundaries. If it felt right and sounded good, we’d do it. This worked well for us live, but from a record label’s perspective, and many a music critic, it became impossible to categorize us.  Our sound was just a bit too diversified. Schizophrenic even. You couldn’t really say “Oh yeah, ASKA? They sound like so and so” because we sounded different song to song, singer to singer.  Now, understand that Darren and I come from the school that says multiple singers in a band is a cool and positive thing. Hell, it worked for The Beatles, KISS, Triumph, on and on, but I began to see how it could be detrimental to a band in our particular genre where the music we were playing was out of favor with the mass media.  The immediate thing we agreed to do was limit the lead vocalist situation.  The songs which featured my vocals were the ones that excited the metal press the most so the logical conclusion was that we would focus on myself as the lead singer.  This was a major change and departure from the way we’d conducted the band for years and it wasn’t an easy decision to make for some of us.  I mean, Darren and Keith are good vocalists in their own right, it just worked out that we were gaining press acceptance with the songs geared to my range moreso than theirs.  Had our lighter rock tunes been the ones to cause the stir in the press, or if circumstances had warranted something else, it might have been one of them handling the lead vocal duties for ASKA instead.  The second immediate change was then based around and prepositioned by the first; If I was now going to be doing all of the singing, I didn’t want to be singing about some of the bullshit subjects or topics I or we had written about in the past.  I wanted the subject matter to have depth and allow for some thought and insight from the listener.  We’d written songs like that on our earlier recordings and I thought a full project featuring these more serious themes would raise the bar, so to speak, so we approached the writing from this perspective. The final thing was that we wanted to have full band autonomy when it came time to mix the record.  We’d had plenty to regret on the mix of our first cd and we felt that nobody in this town that we could afford knew more about how we should sound than us, so we banked on that.  It’s easier to sleep knowing that if our record sounds like shit it was because of us and not anybody else.  You know, so many people like to point fingers at others for their failures, sometimes justifiably so, but it’s my belief that in the end everyone is responsible for themselves.  People make their own luck. You ever notice how when praise is given to people, they accept it but when blame is cast they readily pass it off and point fingers elsewhere? It’s human nature. We have to live with this recording for the rest of our lives, the outside producer doesn’t, so as far as the mixes went, the last word was strictly ours, for better or worse.  I can honestly say though that I am very proud of AVENGER.  I completely agree with the critics when they say it’s a winner through and through.


I know that there is a storyline for AVENGER. What inspired the storyline (watching endless episodes of The Outer Limits?)

I’d say the inspiration came from Spanish artist, Luis Royo’s AVENGER cover artwork, and from my own voracious consumption of science and speculative fiction works.  I love to read about the future; Alternate versions of reality, space and time discordance, alien landscapes and culture. Love the stuff. Absolutely cannot get enough. My major regret in life even is that I was born too soon.  I would have preferred to live in an era where man has conquered space or faster than light space travel. A time when man has realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are not alone in the universe.  Just imagine the possibilities!  Or to exist in the last hundred years of our sun’s natural lifespan. It would be interesting to see if man will have evolved enough to leave this solar system. Everything would be cooked well before our sol’s eventual supernova but I’d like to think that humanity’s spirit of survival and ingenuity would somehow pull us through and get us far out enough in the Milky Way that we’d persist.  So you’re not far off when you talk about ‘The Outer Limits’.


How does the song “Imperial Rome” fit into the story line?

I prefer to leave this to the listener to decide for himself but I will say that the passage of time for an outworlder is not the same as it is for a human just as a rat’s lifespan and their concept of the passage of time is not equal to a human’s. To really get this in focus, think of an ordinary housefly.  The fly’s entire lifespan is a period of mere weeks and that includes it’s maggot larval form. It’s a pittance to us but those few weeks to that fly, with it’s accelerated metabolism and deccelerated view of the world around it, is like a full sixty year lifespan for us.  It’s confusing because we look at everything on human terms, that’s how we can relate and empathize. We don’t have to die to know it’s not something we neccesarily want to do.  We don’t have to smoke to understand that there is a host of ill effects that comes from doing so.  We have perspective.  But what in the world do we know about what, if anything, goes on in an amoeba’s conciousness?  We can’t even begin to understand.  In the story, it’s kind of implied that the outworlders had been to Earth long before any suspected giving rise to many religions, myths, and societal hierarchies.  Throughout the story of the concept as a whole, one can also get the sense that Earth isn’t where humanity originated.  It can be as confusing or as simple as one chooses to interpret everything. The cool thing about AVENGER though is that if you choose to ignore the conceptual part of it, the record still works as all the songs easily stand on their own.  This was done intentionally.  If anyone heard any of these songs on the radio or at a friend’s house, there would be no apparent tie whatsoever to the conceptual storyline presented in the cd booklet.  Only when the concept background information is present can one begin to see the threads that encompass the entire work, and even then it requires some imagination on the listener’s part to fill in the blanks.  Such is the case with ‘Imperial Rome’, which without the story arc, is just a killer song about Rome, the empire, from a historical perspective.


I read that L. Ron Hubbard inspired a song on AVENGER, ‘Against The Gods’ – was that purely based on his early sci-fi writing or is there a hidden scientology message in your music/lyrics?

Well, it wasn’t the late Mr. Hubbard himself as much as one of the stories featured in his ‘Writer’s Of The Future’ anthology book series. That’s about the extent of the Hubbard connection.  Specifically, it was 1997’s “A Prayer For The Insect Gods” by Morgan Burke. That’s where Darren’s inspiration came from.  Any scientology message would be strictly coincidental.   My inspiration for the song came from a short story written in ’52 by Walt Sheldon called “The Hunters”.  It’s funny how these two completely different stories fired us up and inspired each of our portions of the song and yet the end result has absolutely nothing to do with either story. 


What do you think of religion, spiritualism, cults, etc…is it something that you think about at all?

It’s certainly something I think about, but it’s more from an anthropological view of the reasons and need for it in societal structures than as a search for the meaning of life or my own personal salvation.  I have a tendency to think of things in a philosophical way so I’m always up for discussions concerning those subjects.


I love the album cover for AVENGER. How does the title reflect the storyline? (ie. who’s the chick? Heheh).

Well, the female on the cover is the one that according to the story, carries the last breeder male’s son in her womb.  This of course is unknown to her outworld master, whom is also on the cover.  If the child is born, he would be the “Avenger” that was prophesied to come and help humanity reclaim it’s freedom.  The thing with prophesies is that they’re usually invented in desperate times by desperate people.  I love the cover as well though. As I mentioned earlier, the cover was the initial inspiration for the entire feel of the album.  We liked Mr. Royo’s work so much in fact that we’ve got the rights to another of his pieces for a future release.  I’m a huge fan of fantasy art and I’d love to feature many of my canvas heroes on ASKA covers down the line as well.  I’m working on trying to score the rights to an existing Frazetta piece at present which if it goes through would be quite a coup for the band as Frazetta’s work hasn’t graced an album cover since the 70’s and 80’s Molly Hatchett recordings and, in my opinion, their musical style didn’t quite fit those covers if you know what I mean.  I also had some discussions with Rick Berry earlier this year so one thing’s for certain; No matter who we eventually go with, our covers will continue to be top notch and will be an integral part of the work in question. It’s probably the most important thing for me after the music.


Your CD is out on EMA records – a label I haven’t heard of before – is this your own label?

EMA is defintiely ours.  We were screwed by a label in California on our second release, IMMORTAL, so we decided to just continue to do it ourselves until we could hook up with a label of higher integrity.  As we speak we’re just a matter of days from signing a nice deal with a well known label so it looks like AVENGER and it’s follow-ups will be more accessible and easier to find for people in stores and such.  I don’t want to say who the label is yet, not until all of the paperwork and contractual things are agreed on, but they did offer a five album deal which we’re trying to reduce to three.  Either way it’s safe to say that ASKA will be around for quite some time to come.


Have you sent your CD to any of the metal labels like Noise, Century Media, Metal Blade, etc…?

Oh yeah.

What was their reaction? 

Their reactions were very positive.  We fielded offers and interest from Metal Blade, Pavement, Nuclear Blast, Underground Symphony, Adrenaline/Energi, Iron Glory, Neat, Molten Metal, hell, the response has been quite phenomenal. Some of the labels we contacted, others contacted us first and solicited our material. It took a while for word on AVENGER to filter out but it’s getting great word-of-mouth out there. I think it’s just now really starting to come to people’s attention in a bigger way.  We also just completed our second month and a half long tour in support of AVENGER so that helped.


The tour you mentioned was a five week tour of Japan, Korea, Singapore, etc. Firstly – I can understand a Japan tour because all metal bands seem to do well over there but Singapore and (South??) Korea? Tell me how you hooked that up and who you’ll be playing with.

We’ve toured internationally now for about the last eight years for the United States Department of Defense.  They send us around the world to some well known places like Japan, Germany, England, Australia and to other less established, hot spots, like Saudi Arabia and Bosnia.  We love it.  Not only do we get to see the world and support our military metal brethren stationed overseas but we get exposed to a lot of people and places that wouldn’t under any other circumstances be in a position to see a metal band live.  We’ve done 13 tours in this manner and in the process we’ve visited 36 countries around the globe and made many new fans and metal brothers.  It’s how the band managed to stay viable for so long while basking in seeming obscurity.


What types of venues do you play over there – theatres / clubs…?

Mostly clubs but it’s pretty much anything goes. We’ve played embassies, hotels, domes, halls, auditoriums, festivals, theaters, gyms, mess halls, hangars, you name it, we’ve probably done it. Our motto for a while there was “Been There, Done That.” People would start asking us a question and we’d just cut ’em off and say “Been there, done that.” 


What kind of touring have you done in Europe – have you played at any of their big summer festivals?

No, nothing like Reading, Donnington, or Wacken but we’ve been to Europe rather extensively over the years. We’ve played just about every major country in northern and western Europe as well as most of the Mediterranean coastal countries plus several of the eastern European nations like Hungary and Croatia.  Europe is always a blast but again, we’re not out there doing major concerts, just club shows at the American bases mostly. It’s a lot of fun.


How many songs from AVENGER do you play live? 

We do a good eight or so songs from the disc live. We mix it up though so realistically, depending on the show, you may see four or five songs from AVENGER per night.  We try to do songs from each of our four releases as well as some cool covers.  I remember when we did the cd release show for AVENGER, we opened  with a pre-recorded version of ‘Prelude to Darkness’, you know, the piano piece, and we could hear people in the audience going “What is this? John Tesh?”. Fuckers had me rollin’.


Did you play any newer material on this Asian tour? 

Do you mean music from AVENGER’s follow-up? Post-AVENGER? No. We used to give people a preview of what we were currently working on at the time but we stopped because before we knew it the “new” songs would become regulars in our set and by the time they were actually recorded and released we were tired of playing them.  Now we save them so that when the new discs come out these songs are still fresh for us.


Did you not recently contribute to a Maiden tribute?

Yeah, we were on Italian label, Adrenaline/Energi’s “Children Of The Damned”, 2- disc tribute to Iron Maiden set. Killer package.


What song did you cover and what made you select that particular song?

Well, we chose to record ‘Flight Of Icarus’ because ‘The Trooper’ had already been taken by Greek band, Diphtheria. My favorite Maiden album has always been PIECE OF MIND so I think it was easy to gravitate towards a song from that era. I also wanted to do a song that allowed me to show my vocal range so ‘Flight…’ was a great choice.  It’s also the only song Maiden ever charted with in the U.S.


Did this cover open any doors for the band?

Sure it did. For one, it got Adrenaline/Energi all hot for the band. Twice in Italy the label bosses, Simone and Primo, took us out and wined and dined us and hooked us all up with one copy each of every release the company had and promised we’d be featured in their next issue of ‘Metal Force’.  That was a very cool thing to do. We also got a lot of mail and interest from Maiden fans that had discovered us via the tribute. See, disc two of the tribute featured an original song from each of the participating bands.  We included a remixed version of ‘The Stalker’, a song we had originally featured on our NINE TONGUES disc which has a very Maidenish feel.  It got people pretty excited.  We even had some of the other participating bands emailing us saying they were impressed with the band. The whole thing was a good experience.  Now we’ve been offered a spot on an upcoming UFO tribute for Midwest Metal records, all Michael Schenker era stuff, which I’m almost sure we’ll be doing.  Tributes are fun but like everybody else I know, I think there may be just a bit too many of them out there right now.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you based out of TEXAS?!?! What kind of scene do you have there and do you get to play many local gigs?

We’ve got a pretty damn good scene. Very supportive. We’ve got a nice cult following out here and we’re always playing out. All over. Many people get visions of country music and cowboy hats when they think of Texas and that’s pretty accurate but what they don’t know is that we’ve got some of the wildest headbangers in the world right here in Texas.  When Priest and Maiden were barely squeaking by elsewhere they were selling out places in Texas.  When the rest of the country was going grunge and alternative we still had a thriving metal scene here with numerous places to play and lots of fans. Belts got a little tighter and some venues went the way of the dinosaurs but nowhere near as bad as Denver or Seattle or places like that.  It may have helped that Pantera was from here and that King Diamond lives here as well.  Others too. We’ve got Omen and Manny Charlton who used to be in Nazareth. Andy Timmons of Danger Danger, Z-Lot-Z, doom-merchants Solitude Aeturnus. Absu even. From what I understand Tom Araya of Slayer is living in Texas now as well. Every now and then we get the Pantera guys or King Diamond out at an ASKA show and the place gets electric. Of late we’ve been getting a lot of support on the major FM station in our area. They’ve been spinning ‘Lethal Injection’ off AVENGER and ‘Flight Of Icarus’ which we talked about earlier.  The station also nominated us ‘Regional Act of the Year 2000’ so you can’t ask for better. Believe it or not there is quite a bit of support here.  Even the two weekly local papers that trashed AVENGER for being too heavy metal nominate us practically every year for  metal band of the year and stuff like that. Last year we had four separate nominations from one paper alone. It’s a good place to be, Texas.


What about playing gigs in the USA in general?

Within the U.S. we pretty much stick to playing in the south, Louisiana, and Texas being our primary stomping grounds.  As much as we’d like to play throughout the U.S. it’s not really financially feasible for us at present with the metal market being what it is, so we stay close to home.  In this fashion we keep expenses down and we can survive to rock another day.  Once we sign and finalize our deal I think this will change and we’ll try to get on the road in the U.S. with Iced Earth or somebody of their draw and caliber.


Have you ever toured in Canada?

Unfortunately, never. I can’t wait for the day though. We’d be there tomorrow if we could.


What do you think of the metal scene in the USA as compared to Europe as compared to Asia?

I think without a doubt that Germany is THE metal country, bar none. England is very similar to the U.S. in that it’s very pop oriented.  Places like Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Italy have rabid fans and are very much fans of the genre despite trends. 

There they seem to be more accepting of the fact that there are different segments of the population that go for different styles of music.  Here in the U.S. if you’re not flavor of the month, stylistically speaking, the mass media will completely dismiss you as if you didn’t exist.  It’s not like that over there. All genres seem to be on more equal footing.  They don’t try to pretend metal music doesn’t exist and they certainly don’t try to devalue it or poke fun at it like they do here in America and in England.

As for Asia, I think they may be the most starstruck of the pack. They don’t even really seem to care if they like your music or not as much as they like the concept or idea that you’re a touring artist from somewhere else. Anywhere else really.  I think this is mostly due to the xenocentricity of Asian culture in general. Don’t get me wrong, they know what they like without question, they just tend to go “Beatlemania” on bands more so than other places we’ve been to with the exception of maybe South America, but our experience there has been very limited so I couldn’t make anything more than an educated comparison regarding South America.

The bottom line really is that every place we’ve ever visited on tour has been a unique and interesting experience all of and in itself with maybe one exception; Haiti.  If I never go back there again it will be too soon. Hell, Cuba was even cool.


Most memorable tour moment (good or bad)?

Gosh, there are so many. All of the pranks come to mind. On this last tour our drummer Jason and one of the fellows in our touring group, Daryl Norton, wanted to go to a Korean disco that was in the basement of our hotel in Taegu.  It was after a show and I thought what the hell, I’d join them, but when we got to the front desk and turned in our keys I learned the disco had a cover charge. I wasn’t paying anything to sit and listen to Disco while the guys got blitzed so I asked for my key back and headed back up to my room. Well when I tried to get into my room I discovered that the key wouldn’t open the lock.  The lady at the front desk had given me Jason’s room key by mistake!  I immediately went and got Keith out of his room, video camera in tow, and we proceeded to film ourselves demolishing Jason’s room. Man it was hilarious. We threw his laundry everywhere, upended the bed, unrolled all of the toilet paper, threw all of his shampoo and stuff into the tub, put a table and chairs on the boxspring of the bed, unrolled all of his condoms, filled his suitcase with hotel items, just completely ransacked the place. Then I returned to the front desk, swapped out keys and was informed by the receptionist that my friends were at the second floor bar.  I went up and found them knocking some beers back and asked why they weren’t in the Disco.  Apparently it was a Korean only club, no foreigners allowed, so they made their way to the bar instead.  I made up some story about changing my mind and looking for them and then I started with the subterfuge.  I told Jason that the funniest thing happened while I was coming down…I saw Keith wandering our floor with his video camera out and that he was laughing his ass off.  Jason was like, hmm, that’s strange, and didn’t think anything else of it until they closed the bar on us and we returned to our rooms.  The look on his face when he opened his door was priceless man.  He thought he was in the wrong room!  When he realized what he was seeing he remembered what I had told him earlier and was like  “That Keith!!! Bastard!!!”.  He took it all in stride though while we were practically rolling on the floor with our sides splitting from laughing so hard.  The next day on the bus to the show we watched the video of me and Keith trashing his room and he just about died!  We totally fell out. Stuff like that goes on all the time.  Somebody will fall asleep on the plane and we’ll load them up with ice cubes and newspapers and watch the stuff melt all over their clothes.  We definitely keep ourselves entertained and no matter how pissed somebody gets, a few days later they’re laughing as hard as the next guy.


What bands have you toured with and what ones did you feel you fit in best with?

Well, we’ve opened for Ratt, Firehouse, Legs Diamond, Wildside, Dee Snider’s Widowmaker, Quiet Riot, Kix, Heaven, just a lot of those commercial metal bands which is kind of where we were with our first two discs.  To be honest though, I’d be much more comfortable on stage with bands like Riot, Virgin Steele, Manowar, Priest, Maiden, Sabbath.  These true metal bands are the ones that have always done it for me anyway but they played so rarely in the mid 90’s that it was near impossible to get on a bill with them.  I’d prefer to play with them but I won’t turn down a gig no matter who’s on the bill.  Even if it’s opening for No Doubt or somebody like that I’d do it because we’re bound to turn a few heads.  Case in point; We did the X-Fest in Shreveport, Louisiana a few years ago. There was a crowd of about five thousand people and it was, except for us, an alternative bill with bands like Coal Chamber, Powerman 5000, Sevendust, that kind of thing and we went out there with our black leather and studs metal, hair included, and totally won that crowd over. The dudes from Sevendust and some of the other bands were coming up to us going “Who are you guys?!”.  They couldn’t believe that we’d gone out there and got as strong a response as anybody else on that bill and we didn’t have any label or MTV support like many of them had.  After our set, we even went and one-upped everybody by going out into the crowd, signing autographs and shaking hands and talkin’ to all of the people that were interested in doing so.  It kind of disrupted alt night but hey, the way we saw it was another victory for metal music.


You are currently working on a new album. How much of it is written or recorded?

I’d say we’re about halfway done with the writing.  We’ve got some killer metal in the making. Truly powerful stuff. The whole process takes time though when you’re trying to do it right.  There’s no loops or pre-programmed synth patterns here so it’s bound to take a bit longer.  I’m very impatient though. I’d love to have it done and out today, but you know what they say…Good things come to those who wait.


What is the material sounding like in comparison to AVENGER?

It’s right along the same lines. Lots of harmony guitars, killer melodies, heavy subject matter, power rhythms. If you loved AVENGER you’re gonna be a real happy guy when you hear the next one.  I think it will be even better than AVENGER and that’s saying quite a bit.


What lyrical topics will be covered on the next album?

It’s too early to tell right now.  We’ve got lyrics and subject matter for everything we’ve written for the disc so far but we’ve been known to completely scrap a song lyrically just moments before recording is to begin on it so we can’t really ever be 100% certain until we lay it down in the studio. And even then it’s not safe.  To give you an idea, ‘Imperial Rome’ was originally demoed in the studio as a song called ‘Selling Her Soul’ with completely different lyrics and subject matter.  It was only later, when we were days from recording it for the album that I said “fuck this” and scrapped the whole thing lyrically and made it into what it is you hear today.


What kind of material do you read or watch when researching story backgrounds?

I’ve been sparked sometimes when watching the Discovery Channel or The Learning Channel to the point of taking notes along with the show if I think it would make great subject matter for a song. I have a ton of notepads laying around the house just waiting for their moment to come.  Also, if I know I want to write a song about a certain topic I’ll go out of my way to research the subject in a fairly in-depth manner.  I’ll purchase non-fiction historical books, or get my hands on whatever text I can find regarding said topic.  When I wrote ‘Blood Of The Wolf’ for the NINE TONGUES cd, I bought all of the werewolf and real-life wolf books I could find. I  picked up shirts, card games, calendars…anything that could shed light for me or get me inside the head of a wild, pack wolf.  That’s how meticulous I tend to get when it comes to the creative process.


In the song “Valkyries” you have 2 characters (Magnus and Thorsen). That’s two of you on vocals right? What is the reason behind turning it into a “dueling” vocal song? Were the lyrics written first then you decided to do this?

Actually yeah. Originally, the song was written for only one singer, but I thought the idea of making it a multi-character song, with the character’s interacting was much more appealing, plus it allowed us to ease into the one singer thing that we had just adopted with a little more grace.  The song took on a whole new life when we added the dual vocal because it invites the listener to really get into these guy’s heads. Viking brothers going to war, swearing oaths and making sacrifices to their favored gods, while burying their grievances against each other and getting their affairs in order in case they don’t come back.  Everybody going to war fears death and prepares for the possibility of it in their own way.  Vikings, whose way of life was war and pillage, fooled themselves into believing that if they died on the field of battle it would be okay because Odin would then send his handmaiden’s, the valkyries, to fetch their souls and return them to Valhalla where they could then fight again in glory side by side with the god’s on the day of Ragnarok, which is basically the norse Armageddon. What a concept. An entire belief system centered around the very real possibility of one’s death in battle.  I also really liked that Darren’s voice sounded very much like Eric Adam’s on his verses in the song.  It all came together and made for a very intense song.


When I listened to AVENGER I heard sounds of Maiden, Dio, Jag Panzer, Virgin Steele, etc., all stirred up into a blend that was entirely ASKA. Are any of these bands an influence? 

All of those you mentioned are most certainly influences with the exception of Jag Panzer who we’re not overly familiar with.  I think Darren picked up their latest, THANE TO THE THRONE, and what I heard of that I liked but we’re not familiar enough with their work to call them an influence.  The other big influences are Priest, Manowar, KISS, Saxon, that kind of stuff.  One thing I notice is that all of these bands are still around today doing their thing while all of the bands that the masses just loved on the radio are in the “missing persons” files.  There’s something about true metal music that engenders a sense of loyalty and devotion that mass market groups will never tap into no matter how hard they try.


Any more concept albums up your sleeve?

Hmm…Not sure really.  Maybe if we did it in the same fashion we did AVENGER, where the songs can stand independently, that would work for me.


What are your long term plans/goals for the band?

To forge on and carry the metal torch into a new millennium making ASKA the best it can be along the way.  We’ll have an easier go of it with the upcoming record deal. It’d also be nice to get some heavy rotation radio play but unfortunately that’s not really within our control.


Any closing comments?

Yeah, I just want to invite everybody reading this to get themselves a copy of AVENGER. I have so much confidence that they’d dig it that I’m willing to refund anybody’s money personally that buys it and doesn’t like it.  I’d also like to invite your readers to visit our website at  There’s lots to see, do, and hear there so I highly recommend a visit.  And finally, thanks to you, for your support and for a great interview.  It’s always refreshing when an interviewer does his homework and asks interesting questions. I look forward to talking with you again soon.


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