Band leader/bass player Dave Harvey – Millennial Reign
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Ulterium Records for setting up the interview
Thanks to Ulterium Records for the promo pictures of the band
U.S. heavy metal act Millennial Reign is the brainchild of bassist Dave Harvey (Aska). The band released its first album CARRY THE FIRE (released by a record label) at the end of 2015. Harvey and I hooked up to talk about the band, the line up changes the band has gone through, as well as the debut album released independently. CARRY THE FIRE ought to appeal to fans of Judas Priest, Queensryche and Iron Maiden. Get a taste of what the band and their music is all about in the interview below.
Hi Dave, how are you today? I thought we could begin the interview by talking about the brand new Millennial Reign album CARRY THE FIRE. How long did it take to write material for the album and when did the recording session began?
Hello, I’m doing very well, thank you. In the beginning, it was only me writing all the music and James writing all the lyrics. It took around a year to year and a half to write and record everything. I recorded the whole album at my personal studio, so I recorded everything as it was written. James recorded vocals in his own studio and sent the tracks to me.
Did new singer James Guest bring some spark and inspiration to the writing process?
Yes I think so, I’ve always gravitated more towards power metal and his vocals fit that sound perfectly.
Who in the band writes the material and what are the lyrics about this time?
I wrote all the music for CARRY THE FIRE. We keep all of our lyrics in a positive and uplifting style; they mostly deal with inner battles and things going on in the world today.
Was it nice to share the writing with someone else?
I’m not a lyricist so yes, it definitely helps to have someone who is gifted in that area.
Have you used any of the leftover material from the debut album MILLENNIAL REIGN on CARRY THE FIRE?
No, not really. The debut album was actually mostly comprised of songs that I had written in a previous band years ago. They were all more traditional ’80s metal songs that had never been released, so I decided to record in release them.
What did the fans think of the album teaser you released on YouTube?
All the feedback that I personally saw was very positive. Ulterium Records has built a very solid fan base. Our style fit right in with that fan base so all was received very well.
Forever Changed [OFFICIAL AUDIO]
Where does the title CARRY THE FIRE come from?
It is actually a lyric line from the opening track, “Forever Changed”. We all carry the fire within us; things we feel are important.
What do you think of the artwork and design that was created by Felipe Machado and Jan Yrland? What was the thought behind the cover?
I thought all the artwork was fantastic. He did a very good job capturing the feel of it. The entire artwork concept was all Filipe. We just handed it over to him with the album title and he came up with the concept.
Yes I do. I’ve always liked music that is heavy but also very melodic.
Do you think the band have gone through any musical changes and developments since the release of the debut album? If so, in what way?
Yes, I started this as simply a solo recording project. As James and I were working on the next album we decided to form it into a live performing band.
What has the response been on the lyric video to “Men Stand Alone”?
Well, since it’s release it has gotten well over 20,000 views so I think it’s doing very well.
Men Stand Alone [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
The album clocks in at about 50 minutes and includes 10 songs; was it your intention to make a long album?
It wasn’t planned that way, no. I just write a song until I feel it’s finished so the length really doesn’t matter to me.
The songs are almost all 5-minutes long or more, was it your plan to make them long?
No, song length doesn’t matter to me. I work on a song until I feel it’s done, whether that’s five minutes or 10 minutes, really makes no difference to me.
The shortest song “Millennial Reign” is 4:28, what’s it about?
In simple terms a war between good and evil. Evil may win the battle but good will always win the war… that’s foretold.
What is the longest one, “Men Stand Alone” (5:38), about?
We all go through personal storms. It doesn’t matter what walk of life we take, change comes eventually and our lives still go on.
Have you read any reviews in the media about CARRY THE FIRE? What do the critics think about it and do you and the band care about what papers have to say about your work?
I think everyone cares about having good reviews. There are always going to be people that don’t like your album so that’s nothing to worry about. Although, all the reviews I have seen have been nothing but positive.
Are there any differences in how the band is treated by native and foreign press?
We have gotten good press here but of course it’s not near as much as over in Europe. Our genre is definitely not the mainstream here.
The bio states that CARRY THE FIRE is perfect for fans of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Queensryche, can you agree with that?
Yes, I do agree with that. Maiden has always been my number one so I’m very into a lot of duel guitar harmony. And James’ voice tends to have a little bit of a Queensryche feel to it.
Do you think that Millennial Reign have a lot in common music-wise with the bands mentioned above?
Yes, for the same reasons mentioned before on the previous question 🙂
Who plays the keyboard on the album?
I played all the keyboards on the album. I’m really not much of a keyboard player but I do hear keyboard parts in my head as I’m writing songs. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of time to work them out but it always works out well.
The line-up shifted on CARRY THE FIRE, what happened? And who are the new members?
The first album had Bryan Diffee on drums and Trae Doss on vocals. Bryan, I had worked with in a previous band back in the early 2000’s and Trae, I was working with in a current project. They both helped me record the debut album. They weren’t available for the second album so I found James through a posted ad. We recruited the rest of the members from there.
Did you expect the departure of the old members?
Being that it was simply a recording project I expected to have to change members on the next one.
Was is hard to recruit new members to the band?
It took about 6 months to find everyone we needed. We went through several auditions on bass and 2nd guitar but we finally found the right people for the job.
Is the any of the new members involved in any other bands/projects besides Millennial Reign?
Yes, Wayne (drums) Daniel (bass) and Jason (guitar) all play in another power metal band called Infidel Rising. Very good band, you and your readers should give them a listen.
Did it take a long time to find the new members?
About 6 months once we decided to make it into a full band. Second guitar is what took the longest to find. We rehearsed as a four piece until we could find that final piece of the puzzle.
Were there many applicants for the different posts?
Yes there were quite a few. Power metal is not a huge genre in the States so those musicians are a little harder to find.
Is the current line-up a solid one?
Absolutely… everyone is on the same page and very determined to make it a success.
Studio and production
You recorded the album in Nomad Studio, where is the studio located?
It’s in the Dallas, Texas area.
Are there any other well known acts that have recorded in the studio?
King Diamond and Solitude Aeturnus both use that studio. I know there are several more but none come to mind right now.
Who produced the album?
Both JT Longoria and I did all the production.
It was mixed and mastered by JT Longoria and Gary Long, but was it made it Nomad Studio?
No, I did all the recording in my own studio. Then we took it all to Nomad for mix and master.
Was any of the members part of the mixing or the mastering process?
We all sat in on the mix process. I think everyone had a little input here and there.
It was you that founded Millennial Reign; how did you come up with the idea to form a band?
As I said earlier, I had several songs that I had never released and I felt they were worth it. I just recruited a drummer from a prior band and asked the vocalist from a working band to do the album with me.
Are you still a member of the band ASKA?
Yes I am. Both George and Danny stay busy doing other projects as well so it all works out.
Is ASKA big in America and what kind of music does the band play?
Aska is power metal as well. The band has been around for over 20 years so it’s built a decent following here. But like any other band in the genre, it does better in Europe.
Have you played in any other bands/projects before Millennial Reign and Aska?
I played guitar in Phantom-X for a couple years. I didn’t release any material with them though.
Was it given that the band was going to play this kind of music that you do today?
Yes, I had always intended for MR to be a power metal band. It just took quite a while to put it all together.
Where did you find drummer Brian Diffee and singer Trae Doss?
Bryan played with me in an earlier band and Trae and I still work together to this day.
How did the public respond to the debut album MILLENNIAL REIGN?
For an independent release it did OK. If we had more money to work with at the time it might have done a lot better. But it did fine considering.
How did you come up with the band name, does it have any special meaning to you?
I heard the term Millennial Reign probably 15 or 20 years ago. I remember thinking that would be a good name for a power metal band.
Did you do any touring on the debut album?
No, it was just a recording project and not a performing band.
I don’t think it was high enough quality of a recording to release through a label. Not to mention, there aren’t many labels to submit to that releases that genre.
With thought of the brand new line-up in the band do you consider MILLENNIAL REIGN as your debut album?
Being that it was just a recording project, not really. I think CARRY THE FIRE is the actual debut as a band.
Are you happy with the outcome of the new album or do you think you should have done something in a different way?
I believe a few things could have been better, but I’m sure that’s how everyone feels. We’ll be doing the next one a little differently.
Are you friends with Diffee and Doss today? What are they up to now?
Yes, of course. Bryan still lives in Arkansas with his family and Trae and I work together in a tribute act. It helps pay the bills and is just simply for enjoyment.
Is it correct that the band began as your solo project but now it’s a solid band with new members?
Yes, that is the case.
Has the band got a big fan base in the States?
We have a decent following but I wouldn’t consider it on a national level.
Label and management
Was it easy to land a record deal? Did you send out demos to different labels in order to get them interested in the band?
Yes, I sent out around 10 different submissions. Although, Ulterium is the one I really had my eye on because I felt it was the best fit. Everything works out for the right reasons.
How come you chose to ink a deal with the Swedish Ulterium Records?
Ulterium’s artist roster has very high quality bands in our genre. I not only look at a label but the bands that are on it. The quality of bands on a label tells you almost everything you need to know about it. The rest falls in once you are in communication with them. With everything I could see and had learned through talking with them, it was the right thing to do for the band and new album.
Are you happy with the work UR have put into the band and the album so far?
Absolutely… we are already working on our next album and plan to release through Ulterium.
There were a couple more that responded but Ulterium was by far the right choice.
How come you chose to release CARRY THE FIRE on vinyl and is it correct that there’s only 300 copies of the vinyl edition?
Yes only 300. Vinyl is more for collectors. I’ve personally always loved vinyl and really liked the idea of having my own album on it.
Are there any plans on re-releasing MILLENNIAL REIGN?
That’s actually crossed my mind but not 100% sure. It would need to be re-recorded in higher quality to release it.
Besides North America and Europe is it UR that releases the album in the rest of the world as well?
I believe so. I’ve received emails from all over the world concerning the band.
No, we don’t. I’ve been approached by a few but nothing I considered worth our time. One thing you’ll always find in this business are “wannabe’s” and people looking to make money off bands who are willing to do anything just to play
You shot a video to “Way Up High” what can you tell us about that?
We knew that “Way Up High” was our video release as soon as the song was finished. It just had that special feel to it when we listened to it.
Way Up High [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Was it fun to do a video, are there any plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs on the album?
We might release another video using live footage if the opportunity presents itself. We probably won’t do another studio video though.
Have you done a lot of touring with the band so far?
We’ve played around the surrounding States but not a full tour. I doubt we’d do a full Stateside tour unless it’s with a bigger band. There’s just not enough of a fan base here to support it.
I saw that you’re going open for L.A. Guns in May, are you looking forward to that?
Yes, we always look forward to opening for bigger acts. We’ll be supporting Stryper July 1st and Sonata Arctica December 10th as well.
Are there any plans on doing a tour now that the album is out?
No not a full tour. We are more focused on our next album and booking Europe than touring here.
Do you have any festivals booked for the summer?
Nothing as of yet but offers have come in from time to time.
That’s hard to say. I’ve seen a lot of fans from Greece and Brazil liking our Facebook page lately. But I know we have people on there from all over.
The band’s got a great website, do you think it’s important to be active on the social forums that available these days?
Yes, that’s how a lot a new fans find you, by just surfing the net.
Are there any interest shown in Europe for the band to come over and tour?
We haven’t been made any offers yet but we are a new band. You have to prove you’re a solid unit and will be around a while before that happens.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Millennial Reign yet? Could you give them three reasons why they should buy CARRY THE FIRE?
Sure… Maiden, Queensryche and Priest LOL… if you like any of those three bands you’ll like us.
Before we wrap this up, do you have any words of wisdom to share with readers and fans?
Follow your dreams no matter what anyone says. It may be later in life before you see the real fruits of your efforts but it’s still worth it. I’m living proof of this.
Thanks a lot for taking the time making the interview, I wish you and the band all the best in the future! 🙂
Thank you, we really appreciate your interest and time.